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12.07.2005 General News

MPs call for stiffer punishment for rapists


Accra, July 12, GNA - The issue of increasing cases of rape and defilement took centre stage in Parliament on Tuesday with some members of parliament calling for stiffer punishment, such as the castration of men, who are perpetrate these acts.

The members, who were contributing to a statement, said there was the need to also review some aspects of the law to ensure that women and girls were given adequate protection against defilement and rape. Mr Kojo Opare-Addo, NPP-Adenta, who made the statement, said in 2004, there were 181 reported rape cases at the Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) in Accra, a rise from 150 in 2003.

"One worrisome observation about these perpetrators, Mr Speaker, is that often, they are relations of the victims, acquaintances, close family friends, as well as neighbours. In not too few instances, the perpetrators are very highly respected people in society, who capitalize on the weakness or ignorance of these victims and satisfy their sexual instincts," he said.

He said: "Girls should be encouraged to wear protective clothing such as shorts under their skirts or trousers and carry defensive objects like pepper spray."

Ms Akua Dansua, NDC-North Dayi, said consideration should be given to castrating men, who commit these acts.

The member, who identified unemployment as one of the reasons for the rise in the cases of rape and defilement, said there was the need for a national debate on defilement and rape to tackle the menace. She urged Parliament to consider setting up a joint committee of stakeholders to come up with proposals for the government to deal with the issue.

Ms Josephine Hilda Addoh, NPP-Kwadaso, urged victims of rape and defilement to report all such cases to ensure that the problem was dealt with.

Mr Henry Ford Kamel, NDC-Buem, supported calls for castration and said chiefs and opinion leaders should desist from solving rape cases at their level and to allow the law to take its course. Mrs Frema Osei Opare, a Deputy Minister of Manpower, Youth and Employment, called for the strengthening of institutions, such as WAJU to enable it deal with the increasing cases of rape and defilement.

In another statement, Mr Stephen Amoanor Kwao, NDC-Upper Manya, touched on the need to build healthy relationships between Members of Parliament and their district chief executives.

He said chief among the causes of conflicts could be due to the "poor definition of roles and responsibilities of the two."

Mr Amoanor Kwao touched on delays by some DCEs to release the MP's Common Fund to members, as a means to gain an advantage, win local support or stand in future elections as MPs. He called for openness between the two parties to ensure development in the various communities.

Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, NDC-Wa West, said there was the need for the two parties to work together irrespective of party affiliations in order not to derail decentralization programmes. Mr Alfred Agbesi, NDC-Ashaiman, said one way to reduce the conflicts between DCEs and MPs was for DCEs to be elected. He said, when DCEs were elected instead of being appointed, they would have due regard for the MPs.