Anti-rape campaign puts work from Toronto on African billboards
October 18, 2013 | Vanessa Milne | Comments
The request was daunting: the 160GirlsProject wanted to raise awareness among girls that, as a result of a Kenyan High Court decision, the police in that country were now bound to investigate rape cases properly… something that hadn’t been the norm, according to project organizers.
Halfway across the world, advertising agency BBDO Toronto was approached by the 160GirlsProject creator – non-profit legal organization The Equality Effect – to create an awareness campaign. And they felt the pressure.
“We’ve done a lot of pro bono work for very important causes… but there was something about this one where we all felt a lot of responsibility,” said Peter Ignazi, executive creative director at BBDO Toronto, which did the work pro bono. “We didn’t want to screw it up.”
The public awareness campaign started with a bang, timed to an “Access to Justice” marathon in Kenya on Sept. 29 where elite runners, the 160 girls who prompted the case and their legal team all ran together.
For the event, BBDO created a podium with an oversized first place pedestal that held all 160 girls that was emblazoned with the line “The Real Victory is Justice for Child Rape Victims.”
At the same time, a Kenyan senator completed a BBDO-designed billboard by painting a pink slash on it, turning the message from “justice is nowhere for child rape victims” to “justice is now/here for child rape victims.”
“We wanted to put up there what people already thought, and then at the moment the marathon happened, we wanted it to be clear that something had changed,” said Ignazi, adding that “one of the big victories was getting [the senator] involved with this, because it showed that the officials are on their side.”
160Girls gets its name from the girls, aged 3 to 17, whose legal cases prompted Equality Effect to launch its lawsuit in partnership with Mercy Chidi, director of Ripples International, a Kenyan children’s rights organization.
The high-profile human rights case created by the project took its suit to the Kenyan High Court just over a year ago. In May, the high court ruled that the police force was required to promptly and effectively investigate any cases of “defilement.”
The “Justice is now/here” billboards – along with half a dozen more – will remain up for the next three to four months. They are accompanied by an educational website, 160GirlsProject.com. The next step in the campaign is a postering phase that aims to raise awareness of the fact that most rapes are done by men who know the victims, like neighbours or family members, and that those people will be prosecuted.
Other components may follow, said Ignazi. “We’re going to help out whenever we can.”