BAKU, 9 March 2012 - Fifteen children and teenagers came together this week in the capital of Azerbaijan to share their stories on juvenile justice and violence against children in a OneMinutesJr video workshop. The 5-day training is part of a wider project to end torture and ill treatment of children, supported by the European Union in partnership with UNICEF.
In cooperation with the NGO Reliable Future, the Psycho-Social Rehabilitation Center in Baku and the One Minutes Foundation, UNICEF Azerbaijan invited young offenders as well as children who have been victims of violence to attend the workshop. The aim of the 5-day training was to develop one-minute videos written, filmed and produced by the young participants, showing their personal views of their experiences around the topics "children in conflict with the law" and "violence against children".
During the first two days of the training, the children spent most of the time developing their stories with the OneMinutesJr facilitators from Russia, Georgia and Germany. The topics of the workshop, experencies of both young offenders and children who are victims of violence, demanded a very sensitive approach.
All of the young offenders who participated in the workshop were full of regrets and wanted to portray themselves as teenagers who have learned from their mistakes and who deserve a second chance in the future. Nurlan (17), who was in jail briefly for his violent behaviour in the streets towards other youngsters, said: "I have had problems with my temper and have put myself into trouble. Now I am trying to control myself better. Boxing in the gym helps me to channel my aggressions towards sports rather than let them out in the streets."
Most of the younger participants, all aged between 9 and 14, shared stories about violence with the trainers and the group. There were accounts of domestic violence, peer violence, bullying in school, psychological violence and also sexual abuse.
Shaqla (12) produced a OneMinutesJr film about the prank calls she was receiving over weeks from an adult neighbor. She is getting help at the Psycho.Social Rehabilitation Center now, just like many of the others. Rasul (11) gets bullied in school because he plays the violin. In his film, the bullies try to stop him from playing his instrument, but Rasul's courage and his desire to keep playing help him to overcome the challenge. Müslüm (12) and Samir (10) tell stories about broken families, one with a simple "letter to fathers" and the other one with an animated film with characters cut out from a magazine.
Despite the fact that there were two very different groups of participants at the workshop - young teenage offenders on one side and child victims of violence on the other side - the atmosphere during this week in Baku was extremely collaborative and friendly. In the end, 13 films were finished and are now being translated into English so they can be uploaded to the project website, the UNICEF CEECIS youtube channel and be used by UNICEF Azerbaijan and partners to advocate for a better integration of young offenders and the attempt to stop violence against children.
The workshop in Baku was the first of a series of trainings in the CEECIS region in 2012. Other workshops are currently planned for Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.