Statistics from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection regarding Sexual and Gender-based Violence and other violence perpetrated against children between 2013 to 2017 are grim. For example, between 2013 and 2017 there are 3479 reported rape cases, 108 gang rape cases, 603 cases of physical assault, and 34 deaths resulting from sexual and physical violence 17 of which are rape related. And these are only the ones reported; not the countless others that are either compromised or settled at the family or community levels or simply never mentioned.
As part of the larger community, we have a responsibility to move beyond the classroom and join others to provide services to the community in areas that promote and strengthen social cohesion and pro-social behaviors. In this regard and given our discipline, we constantly look out for opportunities to work with journalists and the media who are well situated to promote change.
The media plays a key role in keeping citizens informed and more importantly highlighting issues that affect people. By doing this, the media can empower people to press for change and remedy. For example, if the media highlights issues of rape and other forms of violence against women, the media can ensure justice for survivors by pressuring duty bearers to take appropriate actions to end or minimize rape, and influence public opinion, attitudes, and behaviors against the anti-social practice.
To help the media effectively do this, we organized a two-day training of journalists on SGBV reporting. Thirty journalists from different parts of Liberia attended the exercise which was sponsored by UNICEF.
Tips on interviewing SGBV survivors and reporting SGBV issues, reporting SGBV within the media law and ethics framework, using agenda-setting and framing skills of media to influence public policy and behavior were among topics covered.
As part of the activities, we traveled outside of Monrovia to build awareness on SGBV among school children, parents, and community leaders. Over 100 school children – mostly teenagers – from twenty schools from different communities participated in round-table discussions facilitated by county gender officials. Prompted by questions from facilitators, kids shared their experiences on the subject, detailing experiences of harassment from schoolteachers and other adults.
We are proud of our work outside the classroom to support the fight against sexual and gender-based violence.