Accra, May 26, GNA - Seventy-three women were raped and 212 children were defiled during the first four months of this year, Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWAC) told a news conference in Accra on Thursday.
She said the Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) of the Ghana Police Service in the Greater Accra Region alone recorded 69 rape cases and 196 defilement cases, while Brong Ahafo recorded a rape case and 11 cases of defilement, with the Volta Region and Upper West recording four cases and six cases, respectively.
The Minister condemned the act of defilement and rape saying it was barbaric and advised the public to report such cases to the Police. Hajia Alima said children from the ages of one and older women over 70 years had suffered sexual assault of one sort or another.
"The vulnerable in our society are indeed at risk despite the laws protecting children and women.
"All the reported cases involved physical, emotional and psychological violence, sometimes leading to deaths or permanent disability or unwanted pregnancies as result of defilement and rape." She reminded the public that it was an offence to settle defilement and rape cases at the family level,
"We must do away with family honour and report all cases at the Police station for proper action to be taken.
"Civil society must feel free to report such cases to the Police in order to protect our children and women. This is the only way civil society can help to stem the tide of the canker of rape and defilement of our dear children."
She noted that most perpetrators used similar modus operandi saying "most of the time the victim is asked to bring an item into a room or pushed into a room, and once in the room she is pounced on by the perpetrator.
"The challenge here is for us to maintain our culture of training our children to respect adults but also to be able to politely say no in some circumstances," she said.
She urged parents and guardians to begin to train and encourage their children and wards to say no when invited to enter rooms by adults.
"We need to intervene if a man is inviting a child to a room, it should not be the case that it is none of our business. We must show that we care."
The Minister also called for the need to respect the right of children and demonstrate communal responsibility towards them. She said the Ministry would, as a matter of priority, include issues of child defilement in its outreach programmes and engage queen mothers, traditional rulers and educational institutions in that endeavour.
The Minister lauded the Media for its role in bringing up rape and defilement issues and called for more revelations to sensitise the public on risks that children faced.
Hajia Alima recalled her visit to the Neo-natal Intensive Unit of the Korle-Bu Teaching hospital following a publication that 36 babies were being held for non-payment of bills and advised fathers to act responsibly.
She praised Doctors and Nurses for their support to premature babies and proposed the setting up of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Fund to support the unit.
"There will always be people. who cannot pay for the service but the children must be helped."