The Executive Director of the Kids Educational Engagement Project (KEEP), Brenda B. Moore, has launched a new book intended to educate parents, kids and school authorities to ending Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and abuse across the country.
The book was launched on Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) in Congo Town with a huge commitment from government officials, ensuring the book’s inclusion in the country’s national curriculum.
The book titled, “My Body, My Treasure”, is Liberia’s first early childhood educational material designed to give young children and parents the understanding of how to prevent SGBV and to create awareness.
On September 11, 2020 President George M. Weah declared rape a national emergency after a three-day peaceful protest staged in Monrovia, demanding the government’s intervention in ending rape, but much is yet to be seen.
Mrs. Moore said she is confident that with the release of this book, more people will be comfortable having conversations around touching, seeing and other issues experienced by kids who are mainly victims of SGBV, according to Gender Ministry’s records.
“Even I, who wrote this book and talking about sexual abuse, it’s difficult for me to talk about it with my children. I can still try to change the English and just try to say go and read. And if I am having difficulties enduring it, you can imagine how many people really struggle to talk about these things with their children,” she explained.
She said the book provides an opportunity for parents to have conversations with the children about things within the book, which normally will not be discussed, especially concerning private parts.
Mrs. Moore said while Liberians continue to push the conversation around governance and strengthening the different efforts, there is a need to look at prevention of SGBV from the beginning, indicating that “if the kids are aware of some of these things, they will know how to protect themselves and to speak out.”
“Why are we afraid to talk about [this] thing that is happening? Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection records show that many of those affected or abused are below 18 years. I am elated about this initiative because it’s so much needed for Liberia,” Mrs. Moore emphasized.
She continued: “For instance, don’t allow your child sit on someone’s lap. Again, we all know that when people put the child on their lap, not all can be innocent. These are things that we need to educate parents about, including the bathing of the baby outside. Society doesn’t entirely frown on bathing a baby outside, but these are things that create the environment for them to be abused.”
Mrs. Moore said she hopes that the book will be widely disseminated for the benefit of the parents and kids, many of who are victims of SGBV and abuse, stating that “SGBV issues continue to be a major problem in Liberia, therefore, creating awareness is cardinal.”
Mrs. Moore said the Embassy of Sweden has supported the printing of 500 copies of the book. Meanwhile, she promised to push for the book to be part of the national curriculum so that, before a child enters elementary school, SGBV education can be standard.
Mrs. Moore said she received a lot of feedback while writing the book, but wouldn’t put all into the book because she was trying to contextualize as much as possible. She indicated the importance of getting insight from government officials, parents and experts.
The Honorary Consul General of the Consulate of Switzerland, Sandra Abou-Chacra, who officially launched the book, said it was good finding a story to talk about SGBV and prevention of it with kids being involved.
Mrs. Abou-Chacra said she was excited to be part of an initiative that is good for women and girls’ freedom. According to her, she has read the book with her children and finds it exciting.
“You and your team have done a great job and I surely admired the work you do for the people of Liberia. All of us have a responsibility and all we can do is to work together. The book is perfect because it has coloring of basic things,” Mrs. Abou-Chacra said.
Meanwhile, according to Mrs. Moore, the production of the book was made possible through the support of Mrs. Abou-Chacra and lauded her supporting the fight against SGBV.
Deputy Minister for Gender Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), Lydia Sherman, said the book is the most creative and innovative approach she’s seen thus far in the fight against SGBV in Liberia.
“The risk of children being violated is more than 80 percent in Liberia. This book is not only about coloring and prevention, but also a mechanism for play therapy and fellowship, which children use to play, communicate better and talk about the issue,” Minister Sherman said.
Assistant Education Minister for Early Childhood Education, Thelma T. Manston-Nimmo, said authority of the Ministry of Education remains delighted in KEEP’s work and will ensure that the book forms part of the country’s curriculum.
“It will not just be Brenda’s book, but the Ministry of Education’s book for our schools. This book is very important for our school system. The Minister of Education is excited and we will discuss with Brenda and the ways forward in producing more of this book,” Mrs. Manston-Nimmo said. According to her, the ministry will ensure that the “My Body, My Treasure” book reaches to the various childhood education centers across the country, adding that, “it’s good to discuss SGBV issue or sex with the kids, which is difficult for many parents in Africa.”