An end to violence against children
Played a leading role in the Liberian Children's Parliament, pushing for national legislation on children's rights
Abraham M. Keita, or Keita for short, was born during Liberia’s brutal civil war. His father, a driver for a humanitarian organization, was killed in an ambush when Keita was only five years old.
Keita grew up in extreme poverty with his mother and siblings in West Point, the largest slum of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. Although the civil war ended in 2003, it left deep scars in society and its impact continues to be felt today.
Keita was just 9 years old when he was first moved to speak out. Outraged by the rape and murder of a 13 year old girl in his community, he took part in a peaceful protest demanding that the perpetrators - her foster parents - be brought to trial. Making an impression on his peers, Keita was invited to join the Liberian Children’s Parliament, where his passion for advocacy was nurtured.
Keita embraced his membership of the children's parliament, organizing peaceful marches and calling on the Liberian government to respect children's rights. In 2012 his efforts were rewarded with the signing into law of the Children's Act. He also lobbied successfully for direct national funding of children's participation, and continues to lobby for free quality primary and secondary education for all.
"I will be able to rest when every child across the globe will be able to smile and say that violence has been eliminated."
In 2014 a 15 year old boy was shot dead by armed forces durning a peaceful protest in Keita's neighborhood against blockades set up to contain the Ebola virus. Keita organized a second march to demand that the government take responsibility for the teenager's death. The march sparked national debate, and because of Keita, the government was forced to acknowledge its culpability.
Keita received his high school diploma in 2016, supported by the KidsRights Care and Study fund. He now attends university.
KidsRights is proud to empower Keita as a changemaker for children who are victims of violence. He is an inspiration to many hundreds of children and young people, through direct action, lobbying an the media, informing and mobilizing them to stand up for their right to be safe from violence.
We are inspired by Keita's commitment to improving the lives of millions of children in Liberia and beyond. Through The KidsRights Youngsters, our projects in Liberia, and much more, KidsRights will stand beside him as he fights to bring an end to violence against children.
Almost half of Liberia's children have personally experienced physical violence, and despite the introduction of new laws to protect their rights, the reality on the ground has yet to catch up. Inspired by Keita's unwavering commitment to making things better, KidsRights has come together with local partners to support a number of projects in this area.
We are working for the implementation of the children’s law, by training workers to ensure that children who have suffered violence are given access to justice. We are training children themselves to use social media to raise awareness of their rights. We are building help desks to make it possible for children to report violence against them, and we are offering training within communities and institutions to encourage the prevention of sexual violence in particular.
On his popular weekly radio program, #OurFuture, Keita raised burning issues affecting Liberian children and young people, encouraging them to open up about difficult topics such as sexual violence.
"It is high time to protect all of us, the world's children, particularly the most vulnerable."
Keita is a member of The KidsRights Youngsters; a unique youth-led advocacy and awareness-raising platform of the International Children’s Peace Prize winners, that aims to realize children’s rights as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As leading young changemakers, they act locally, speak out to world leaders, influence policy, and engage children and young people worldwide. What these inspiring youngsters have achieved on their own is amazing. But that is just the beginning. With our support, their ambition to change the world can be limitless.
After winning the 2015 International Children’s Peace Prize, The KidsRights Youngsters took Keita’s battle with violence against children to the next level. Keita addressed the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates on the refugee crisis, and on the importance of justice and safety for children.
In 2016, he spoke to the UN Human Rights Council about child protection at the launch of the High Time To End Violence Against Children initiative. KidsRights played a part in this initiative, alongside the UN Special Representative on Violence Against Children, and many others.
The KidsRights Youngsters advised the International Criminal Court on the development of their Policy on Children, to ensure that war crimes against children are properly investigated and prosecuted. Keita spoke at the launch of the policy in 2016, highlighting the importance of child participation, and of empowering the Court to act where its help is most desperately needed. On Universal Children's day, The KidsRights Youngsters urged the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the criminal court without delay.
Keita did not stop his advocacy and campaigning when he moved to the United States to go to university. When the March for our Lives was happening on the 24th of March, Keita went to Washington to join the youth of America. The March for our Lives was a demonstration march for a tighter gun control and against gun violence against children. Not only violence against children has a special place in Keita’s campaigning, also the impact of gun violence is something he knows the impact of: “At age 9, a gun ruined my life; a single bullet from a gun changed my story. It made me fatherless; my father was killed by rebels while driving for a humanitarian relief organization during the conflict in my country.”