Iconic Children’s Singer Raffi Cavoukian Speaks Up About Rehtaeh Parsons’ Suicide and Rape Culture

Like many of you, I’d imagine, I grew up listening to Raffi Cavoukian, the Egyptian-born Canadian children’s musician singing songs like “Baby Beluga” and “Down By The Bay”—I even have dim memories of going to see him in concert. He’s recently embarked on his first tour in ten years, and now, as both a Canadian and an advocate for children, he’s speaking out about the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons, who hanged herself at 17 after she experienced bullying and social isolation after she was allegedly sexually assaulted and a picture of the assault distributed online—and about rape culture more broadly.

In a series of tweets today, Raffi wrote:

The idea that men have a role to play in reducing sexual assault isn’t new, of course. But there’s something particularly powerful about hearing Raffi, who’s both an advocate for children and someone whose music has always been predicated on the theory that children have the ability to absorb big ideas about the world and their place in it, say that rape culture is unacceptable. If we’re going to teach boys more actively about gender roles and respectful and consensual sexuality, that’s a process that’s going to require a foundation to be constructed fairly early in childhood. That’s not to say that we need to start sex education at five. But if we’re going teach boys about the huge range of things they can be in the same way we’ve reexamined roles and options for girls, and if we’re going to try to shift the perception of what values make a person a real man, someone like Raffi, who knows how to speak to children directly and uncondescendingly, will need to be part of the conversation.