Gov’t, UNICEF Intensify Fight against Rape

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In their quest to intensify the fight against the menace of rape, the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Gender and Development (MoGD) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) have launched an anti-rape book.

Violence against children, especially Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV), is a major threat to children’s lives that also affects their families, communities and the nation as a whole.

The book title, “Let’s Speak Out,” is a second of a series of publications that focus on an adolescent girl name Sara. The book aims to give young people the courage through camaraderie to report cases of rape and other gender-based violence cases to high authorities for redresses.

It also promotes buddyism (friendship) through which young people (adolescent and children), especially school and community friends can confide in each other to share that things that effect them as children and as well seek pieces of advice from each other.

This publication is a part of the End Violence Against Children (EVAC) initiative of MoDG and its partners.

EVAC targets children and young people in school, community leaders and members, and decision makers to accelerate actions and protect children against sexual violence.

The Sara “Let’s Speak Out” anti rape book was launched on Friday June 6, 2014 at the Borough Hall in New Kru Town.

Officially launching the book was the Deputy Minister for Research and Technical services at the Ministry of Gender and Development, Annette Kiawu. Minister Kiawu proxy for Gender Minister, Julia Duncan Cassell.

Speaking before the launch, Deputy Minister Kiawu said Liberians; especially those in leadership need to ask, “What is it that we need to do to keep our children safe?

She said the issue of violence against children, especially sexual and gender base violence is a major threat to the lives of Liberian children. She noted that the acts affect the victims’ families, communities and the whole nation.

The MoGD official indicated that government and partners have undertaken Efforts including numerous prevention and awareness initiatives and the passing of the legislation.

Despite these interventions, reported cases of rape remain alarmingly high with vast majority of these cases involving minors and very young children.

Minister Kiawu however said that the Sara book is an innovative and highly effective method of creating a conversation about issues among children.

“The Sara booklet will be rolled out as part of the EVAC initiative of UNICEF and government. It is intended to serve as a supplementary reader, which will inform students of the need to report cases of rape and prevent them from being victimized,” she said.

UNICEF Acting Country Representative, Fazlul Haque, said through the booklet, students, particularly those in the 4th-6th grades, would be given relevant and accurate information on how to stay safe from sexual abuse and the steps that can be taken in responding to incidents of rape that may occur.

“But more than giving a book, what we intend to do is to bring the students into the network of response and prevention. We want them to be aware that there is a supportive environment that includes teachers, police and their peers who are committed to ensure that there is no more rape in this country,” Mr. Haque said.

Meanwhile in the book, Sara is seen taking the initiative to report to authority a rape case involving her close friend Kema who was rape by an elderly man

Sara series, “Let’s Speak Out”, aims to encourage victims, families and communities to speak out against the problem of child rape and to report the crime to the police.

With a plot that conveys the possibility that victims can obtain justice for rape if they report it, and with characters who show supportive attitudes towards child survivors of sexual violence, the book also promotes prevention through community action, including individual choices that can be made by children themselves.

The book was developed for Liberia by UNICEF in collaboration with the government, and will serve as the centerpiece for school-based efforts under this initiative.

According to the latest GBV report for Liberia, a total of 2159 SGBV cases were reported. 971 of these were rape cases perpetrated against children between the ages of 10 to 15; 28 of these cases involved boys that were sodomized. Ten adolescent girls reportedly died as a result of this menace perpetrated against them.

Anti-Rape Ambassador, Jonathan Korvah (aka Takun-J) along with other Liberian musical artists including Peaches, Robbie Nas and Lady Mouthphy were also present at the ceremony and did some wonderful performances.

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