About the film: UNICEF asked us to write and produce a 4-5 minute music video for their global #EndViolence campaign focusing on attitudes towards gender based violence, particularly the issue of rape, within Liberia. They wanted a film designed to captivate a global social media audience between the ages of 18 to 35 and edited to a pre-selected musician's song like a music video as part of a global series of films on violence against children around the world. The overall goal of the video was to share a localized story happening in Liberia to a global audience and to create further awareness and advocacy towards the issue of violence against children. We worked closely with UNICEF to write a script based on common stories in Liberia. Then, we hired local actors and a couple famous Liberian singers to act out the scenes over a series of days. We even managed to get the real Liberian National Police on board to lend their uniforms and direct the actors on proper arrest procedures.
Background: 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.
About the Client: UNICEF is a leading humanitarian and development agency working globally for the rights of every child. Child rights begin with safe shelter, nutrition, protection from disaster and conflict and traverse the life cycle: pre-natal care for healthy births, clean water and sanitation, health care and education.
Initiative: End Violence Against Children
Editing: Sarah Grile
Videography: Sarah Grile, Morgana Wingard
Producer: Morgana Wingard
* WINNER OF A 2014 SILVER DAVEY AWARD