Zurich - People from all over Zurich and Geneva came out in the cold on Tuesday night to form a human chain across the two cities to demonstrate their support for UNICEF's campaign to stop violence against girls. The local participants that lit up the cities with glowing signs and balloons were joined by Anatole Taubman, the Swiss-born actor known internationally for his roles in Band of Brothers (HBO), Spooks (BBC) and The Tudors (BBC).
The event was the crescendo of a national campaign ‘Stop Violence against Girls' which began on 20 November for International Children's Day. Created by Saatchi & Saatchi Zurich for UNICEF, the campaign includes a series of graphic images and films shot by internationally renowned photographer Marco Grob, most famous for his series of 9/11 photographs.
The campaign features images of girls from different cultural backgrounds, telling anonymous stories based on factual cases from India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nicaragua, Nigeria and the Ukraine. Each of the striking images contains a direct call to action to ‘Stop violence against girls' and donate to ‘give them back their own voice'. In recognition of this, each member of the human chain wore a specially created mask over their mouths, symbolising the plight of girls around the world.
Elsbeth Muller, Executive Director of UNICEF Switzerland said, "The world owes girls a supportive environment and most importantly protection from harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, forced marriage and honor killing. The goal is to break through the wall of silence that often surrounds girls confronted with violence or discrimination. By calling problems by their name and talking about them, we help the concerning parties to defend themselves."
Juerg Aemmer, Executive Creative Director of Saatchi & Saatchi Zurich said, "The problem is a delicate subject. The goal of this orchestrated promotion, which includes the highlight of a human chain, is that we neither provoke nor work with stereotypes, but instead have the courage to act and make a change for the girls."
The campaign which aims to raise awareness of the issues facing girls around the world has also included a series of film screenings hosted by UNICEF on Sunday 9 December, to generate more public discussion around the topics. The screenings were attended by notable activists and campaigners in this field and also featured discussions and introductions moderated by Kurt Aeschbacher, Ambassador for UNICEF Switzerland and host of weekly talk show Aeschbacher.
The campaign website provides more information about UNICEF's work, including the educational programs, emergency assistance, medical treatment and psychological support projects it supports in order to improve the situation of girls around the world.