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Music for social change: UNICEF teams up with Liberian artists to protect children from violence [14 June 2014]

Liberian hip co artists Robbie Nas and Takun J
© UNICEF Liberia/2014/Ajallanzo​
Liberian hip co artists Robbie Nas and Takun J used music - their preferred form of "edu-tainment" - to send anti-rape messages to concert attendees

Agency partners with “hip co” musicians and filmmakers to build anti-child rape movement in Liberia

BUCHANAN, Liberia 14 June 2014 –  The capital of Grand Bassa County welcomed four of Liberia’s hottest stars today at a concert to galvanize communities to take action against violence against children, especially child rape. The concert was the first in a series of six being rolled out by UNICEF and PCI-Media Impact, a nonprofit that specializes in using communications for social change. Five of the concerts will be held in county capitals, with the sixth hosted in the national capital of Monrovia. The series is part of a broader, multi-pronged campaign to stop the abuse and exploitation of children in Liberia.

 Liberian hip co artist Takun J, who the Government has designated as an anti-rape ambassador, headlined today’s show, which also featured hip co artists Peaches and Robbie Nas and Liberian comedian Kpakala Kpokolo. A moving music video on the issue of child rape was also debuted at the event.

 “That could be my sister, my young niece, or my own jue [child],” said Takun J on the issue of child rape. “So as a musician and a man, I have to stand up and speak up and do my part to end rape. Hip co is my way of carrying the message, but we all have to do our part in our own way.”

 The Buchanan concert sought to amplify two key messages: that child rape is a crime, and that everyone in the community has a role to play in prevention and response. Takun J and fellow artists gave performances underscoring these messages, and comedian Kpakala Kpokolo used humour to reinforce them without minimizing the issues.

 A music video produced for UNICEF by the creative team at NAMUH, a Liberia-based creative collective, was also shown, adding one more form of “edu-tainment” to the event. The film tells the fictional story of a 10-year-old Liberian girl who is repeatedly raped by a family friend and who, with the support of her teachers, family and her community, reports the crime to the police.

 The concert and the music video are just two components of Liberia’s broader efforts under a UNICEF-spearheaded initiative to end violence against children worldwide. In Liberia, the initiative is being jointly rolled out with Government line ministries. The country has chosen child rape as the focus of the campaign due to both the prevalence of the crime and the difficulties in stopping it.

 “Despite strong laws on child rape, few suspected rapists are brought to justice in Liberia, and the majority of all reported rapes continue to be of children,” said UNICEF Representative Sheldon Yett. “Many in Liberia still do not treat child rape as the serious crime that it is and continue to view it as a private family matter.”

 While the maximum sentence for child rape in Liberia is life imprisonment, relatively few suspected rapists are brought to justice. This is due to a combination of factors that also include reluctance to report by victims and families, who may instead opt to settle the crime informally, and the limited capacities of the security and justice sectors. In this context, while it is important to encourage reporting to the police, it is equally important to focus on changing individual perspectives on, and societal attitudes toward, rape.

 Concerts and other such events are an effective way to focus people’s attention on an issue, but they are not sufficient to change attitudes. Recognizing this, UNICEF and other UN, civil society and Government partners are training key community leaders, groups and Government agencies in counties across Liberia on prevention and response to violence against children, with a focus on rape. County authorities are also being encouraged to produce action plans to respond to violence against children.

 Finally, UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Education to introduce the Sara Let’s Speak Out book in schools nationwide. Officially launched in Montserrado County on 6 June, the book tells the story of Kema, a young schoolgirl who is raped by a male acquaintance of her family, but who is afraid to talk about the crime until her schoolmate, Sara, reaches out to her. The book communicates to children the importance of telling a parent, teacher or peer about sexual violence, and suggests preventive measures children can take to protect themselves.

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 About UNICEF:

 UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

 For more information, please contact:

 · Adolphus Scott, Communications for Development Specialist

Tel: +231-(0)770-25-7113 (office), +231-(0)770-26-7113 (mobile)

E-mail: adscott@unicef.org
 

· Carolyn Kindelan, Communications Officer

Tel.: +231-(0)770-25-7110 (office), +231-(0)770-26-7110 (mobile)

E-mail: cmkindelan@unicef.org 

 Liberian comedian Kpakala Kpokolo kept these young men laughing during his routine
© UNICEF Liberia/2014/Ajallanzo​
Liberian comedian Kpakala Kpokolo kept these young men laughing during his routine, which used humour as a means of opening space for discussion about the sensitive topic of violence against children

 

 
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