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Schoolboys rap against domestic violence

Eleven and twelve-year-old boys at Bankstown Public School are putting a fresh spin on anti-domestic violence messages as they take part in rap music workshops, writes Kavita Bedford.

The two-month long school program that is being run by Craig Taunton, a musician and youth worker at Bankstown Youth Development Services (BYDS), uses rap and other forms of music to engage young boys in anti domestic violence messages.

Taunton said it is important to help share the message of violence against women and to engage young boys.

Those chosen for the program are a mixture of those who set a good example and some who had exhibited problematic attitudes towards women.

“For example, one boy had previously told a teacher he didn’t have to listen to her as she was just a woman,” Taunton said.

“It turns out he had a history of domestic violence in his family, and this behaviour often is learnt from the home. But after spending time with the other boys and workshopping ideas there was a considerable difference reported in his attitude, especially towards female teachers.”

"We chose the name of our song ‘Women are great’ because this is the message we think is important."

– Abdullah Sankari, 12, of Bankstown Public School

Males aged between 10 and 24 make up 82 percent of domestic violence offenders, according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

The highest instances of domestic violence in New South Wales are recorded in Sydney's western suburbs and Bankstown is rated as the sixth-highest area with an incident increase of 20.8 percent in the past year, BOCSAR found. 

Rapper Abdullah Sankari, 12, said it was important to have this education in the region. “In the western suburbs we have lots of different cultures which have different attitudes towards women.”

It is important for women from various cultures to stand up and “say ‘no’, this is Australia, I have rights and I can be heard,” he said.

Along with other boys from Bankstown Public School, Abdullah was part of a rap music video created by Craig Taunton entitled ‘Women are great’.

"We chose the name of our song ‘Women are great’ because this is the message we think is important. You need to respect them as if they were your mother, your sisters and know that women are capable of many things,” Abdullah said.

“We chose rap because it makes sense for a lot of boys. I like 2Pac and Biggie and lots of the boys like rap here, too." 

The boys will perform the rap as part of White Ribbon Day on November 25. White Ribbon is Australia’s only national, male-led campaign to end male violence against women. The campaign originated in Canada and is now active in 60 countries and prevents violence by raising awareness raising and education, and initiates programs with youth, in schools and workplaces and also across wider the community.

It is part of a wider global movement to encourage men to speak out against issues of gender violence and discrimination.

Actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, asked men to commit to speaking out against violence faced by women and girls around the world, when announcing the HeForShe campaign. 

"It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals," she said in her speech.

Abdullah also believes males should join the fight against domestic violence. “It is important for this to be about us young boys, because we are the future of this country... If you have your sons telling you it is wrong and that we think hitting women is something that weak men do, it makes a difference,” he said.

“As a young boy, I am here saying to you I don’t want this.”

The Point

Schoolboys are using rap and other forms of music to speak against domestic violence

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