SEARCH: against violence in Liberia
Liberian Abraham M. Keita, also known as Keita, is the International Children's Peace Prize Winner of 2015. He fights for justice for children who have been victims of (sexual) violence. Not only because violence against children is common in Liberia, but also because Keita has had to experience it up close.
To support Keita in his fight, we searched for local project partners with the same goal. This resulted in a long-term collaboration with project partner SEARCH, an organization that works against violence against children in Liberia.
Violence against children in Liberia
Every 5 minutes, somewhere in the world, a child dies from the effects of violence. Liberia is, unfortunately, an example of a society in which violence against children, and in particular sexual violence against girls, is a daily occurrence. Research shows that:
- Approximately 15 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 have become victims of sexual violence;
- Only 1% of these girls have asked for professional help;
- Sexual exploitation and abuse in schools is a national problem.
A study by the Liberian government itself shows that almost 1 in 5 students has been abused by teachers or other school staff.
KidsRights works together with project partner SEARCH (Special Emergency Activity to Restore Children's Hope) to combat this problem.
What does SEARCH do?
SEARCH focuses on combating (sexual) violence against children and young people in schools and communities. The goal is to create a child-friendly (learning) environment. SEARCH was founded in 1999 and engages in research, the promotion of children's rights, the prevention of HIV / AIDS and the provision of emergency aid.
In the past year, SEARCH & KidsRights have:
- Set up 18 children's clubs. These children's clubs have 180 members from 12 to 18 years old. The members receive training to create awareness about sexual exploitation and violence. 9 of these clubs are set up in schools, the other 9 in communities, so that children who do not attend school are also involved.
- Founded 9 Girls Clubs. A total of 90 girls receive sexual education, learn about the dangers of teenage pregnancies and are get explanation on how to report (sexual) violence.
- Reached 9,000 people with a campaign about sexual violence. This campaign focused on raising awareness about sexual violence against children. The central question was how this can be prevented and what can be done to solve this problem.
- 332 victims of sexual violence received psychosocial help, with a focus on strengthening their self-esteem and self-confidence.
- 65 professionals received a training to prevent violence against children. These professionals were people who, because of their position, can come into contact with violence against children, such as the Liberian police.
The coming year SEARCH & KidsRights want to:
- Set up a radio show, where attention is asked for the prevention of (sexual) violence. This radio show is an effective tool to reach around 90,000 people and make them aware of children's rights, (sexual) violence and the ways of reporting this.
- Expand both the Girls Clubs and children's clubs. They want both clubs to grow to several regions in Liberia. Within the clubs, the young members will, next to the current activities, support other peers with similar experiences. In addition, together with professionals, they will organize meetings at schools to discuss (sexual) violence.
- Organize meetings at schools and in communities to prevent sexual and gender-related violence. The focus is not only on children, but also on parents, teachers and leaders, so that they know what they can do when they come into contact with sexual violence against children. It is expected that about 30 people will be present per meeting.