Background: Takun J is the "Hip Co King" of Liberia and an anti-rape Ambassador. The "Co" is short for colloquy—the local Liberian dialect. Takun J shares his anti-rape messages through colloquy in his songs to reach the local population. He knows that as an artist everyone looks up to him so he utilizes his platform to educate society to create a better world.
Liberian children are victims of numerous forms of violence every day, but one of the most shocking and prevalent forms is child rape. Sadly, the majority of reported rapes in Liberia are of girls, often girls under 10 years of age. (Of course, many rapes go unreported, so this doesn’t mean a high number of women are not also affected by this abuse; however the fact that so many child rapes are reported is extremely troubling and reflects broader societal problems.) All too often, families and communities in Liberia discourage victims from even talking about rape, let alone reporting it to the police, and opt to settle rape accusations “the family way” – e.g., through payments by the alleged perpetrator to the affected family, or even through the marrying off of the girl to the alleged perpetrator.
Under Liberian law, convicted perpetrators of rape are subject to life imprisonment, but due to a combination of factors that include reluctance to report and, (perhaps just as much), weaknesses in the security and justice sectors, not many suspected rapists are brought to justice in Liberia. Thus while it is important to encourage reporting to the police, it is equally (if not more) important to focus on changing societal attitudes toward rape, including child rape. This can only be achieved by going community to community to sensitize people on the issue of child rape in order to try to create a true anti-rape movement in Liberia. Such a movement would make girls more likely to report rape; would make families, peers, teachers and communities more likely to support girls when they report the abuse; and would promote a police culture that understands the issue of child rape, as well as the key role of the Women and Child Protection Section of the police force in dealing with rape.
The Sara book series is an initiative by the UNICEF Liberia Country Office. The project centers on Sara, a young Liberian girl who we hope all Liberian children can relate to. In her books, Sara tackles issues of particular relevance to the Liberian context. In the second book, Sara supports her friend, Kema, in talking about and eventually seeking justice against an older man who raped her. The book shows how speaking to just one friend about the abuse and – more importantly – having it validated by that friend can help victims. It goes farther to show how if the community rallies around the victim – from teachers to parents to community members (including boys) to the police –the grief and pain of the victim can be lessened. To make the book even more culturally relevant to Liberia, Takun J, a top Liberian hip-hop star, appears in it giving an anti-rape concert.
To kick off the book, Takun J played at concerts with other Liberian HipCo artists. The idea of the concerts was to get people talking about the issue of child rape, above all, and open space for reporting
Videographer: Sarah Grile, Morgana Wingard
Editor: Sarah Grile
Location: Monrovia, Liberia