Rape or sexual abuse is not an issue that many Liberian artistes love to sing about, but there are few brave ones like Mz Menneh and Tito Gee who are using their songs to speak out against the immoral and illegal act.
Tito Gee’s song, Breaking Silence, and Mz Menneh’s Stop Rape, comes in the wake of the recently released ProPublica’s and Time Magazine’s story of years of sexual abuse at the US-based charity organization More Than Me.
The Time Magazine’s story reported that MTM, a US charity, was founded in 2009 by Katie Meyler to help get girls from the street to school.
The report added that the girls were raped from the onset by Macintosh Johnson, the charity’s co-founder and an ex-combatant with whom Meyler was having a sexual relationship.
According to the report, MTN founder Katie Meyler and the board went to great lengths to cover up the scandal as well as working with government officials to influence the trial of the accused rapist, her boyfriend.
The singles from Mz Menneh and Tito Gee tackles a number of controversial issues, including rape and child molestation as well as the harmful impact on those who are being victimized.
“We want to use our music to make a difference,” Mz Menneh and Tito Gee told the Daily Observer this month, speaking via social media. “Protecting women from sexual abuse is an issue close to our hearts. Our songs are meant to stir debate on how society can get rid of its rape culture and better protect women.
“The best way we can end or even minimize rape or any sexual abuse against women is through a national dialogue, where people will get to know the danger of such thing,” Mz Menneh and Tito Gee said.
Rape remains one of the most frequently reported crimes in Liberia, according to Liberia’s Ministry of Gender and Development, and the incidence of sexual violence against women in Liberia is among the highest in the world.
In a 2016 SGBV report, UNMIL (United Nations Mission in Liberia) and UNCHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) reported that the number of reported cases of rape is extremely high and that perpetrators are rarely held accountable.
The report added, according to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP) Gender-Based Violence Annual Statistical Report of 2015, only two percent of all SGBV cases reported to GBV Response Actors (Health facilities, NGOs and LNP/WACPS) resulted in a conviction.
The report further said prison data received by UNMIL in June 2016, show that courts convicted 34 individuals for rape in all of Liberia in 2015, out of over 803 reported cases that year.
Rape is the second most commonly reported serious crime in Liberia. In 2014, according to statistics provided by MOGCSP, 708 cases of rape, including gang rape, were reported to law enforcement officials, health care providers, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs); in 2015, this number rose to 803.
Out of these 1,511 cases, only 836 reported by MOGCSP were registered by the police, and the police later sent only 259 cases to court. According to data collected from circuit courts, 24 individuals were convicted in 2014 and 34 in 2015 by the court of the first instance,” the report added.
“Rape is a serious issue that needs everyone to get involved and that is why we are trying to create that awareness through songs. Music is a powerful tool to create awareness about rape or sexual abuse; it is because music cut across all boundary and inspire people to take action,” the artists said.
Mz Menneh and Tito Gee strongly condemn all form of sexual violence against women and promised to continue to use their music to create awareness on the issue through their music.