Too Much Focus On Sex Abuse Stories, Not Enough On The Victim
A child advocate for sexually abused women is urging that government intervene in providing more support to victims who face rape and sexual assault.
On the Super Morning Show Thursday, Dennis Adjei-Dwomoh a lawyer and director at a centre for juvenile delinquency in Ghana, explained ways the administration could protect the identity of the child while boosting their confidence following encounters of rape. He also suggested that offenders face harsher punishments for crimes they commit against their prey.
“How many children who are now matured has gone through due process? When we decide to punish the offenders, the person can be let go on grounds of technicality. If the police do not charge him well, he can be let go.”
Dwomoh’s advise comes on the heels of a riveting report from Joy News’ Manasseh Azure Awuni about a 17-year-old student at Obuasi Senior High Technical School in the Ashanti region who says Seth Amponsah, her 47-year-old teacher, raped her in his office.
Amponsah has denied the allegations against him. Investigations are ongoing.
Last month, Joy News reported about the sexual misconduct of a teacher who allegedly inserted his fingers inside the vagina of a nine-year-old child. According to the student, whose name has been withheld, the teacher assaulted her after ordering all the pupils to leave the classroom.
"When I started writing, he came closer and rubbed his hands in my head and said my father has asked him to provide all my needs,” she told Joy News’ Maxwell Agbabga. "He put me on one of the tables and started inserting his fingers into my genitals. It was painful, I started struggling with him.”
Read more: Obuasi SHTS scandal: ‘GES official coached me to deny sexual assault story’
Last year, rape cases in the country soared to 514 cases reported to the Ghana Police Service. Dozens have called on the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Protection to intervene, including Nortey Dua, a clinical psychologist based in Accra.
On the Super Morning Show Friday, he pleaded with government to ramp up efforts in taking sexual assault cases more seriously.
“We need to set up a society that says, ‘hey this can’t happen here, and if it does, you will pay a price.’”
In other countries around the world, he noted, the names, pictures and addresses of convicted sex offenders are posted online as a way to inform the public of where perps live.
“We have not reached that level of sophistication,” said Dua. “But there are basic things that we can do to limit this.”
One of those things is to alert a trusted family member or friend when one becomes a victim of assault, said Joy FM’s Animwaa Anim Addo, who applauds the girl for coming forward after the harrowing ordeal. Far too often, she said, victims remain silent out of fear and shame.
We have a culture of not drawing boundaries when it comes to touching,” she said. “It is not acceptable when we do not define those boundaries and culturally, we are setting ourselves up for problems.”
In 2017, the #MeToo movement spread internationally in workplaces and homes. Countless women and men used the hashtag as an attempt to protest against sexual misconduct.
“For every one of these stories of harassment and predation finally seeing the light of day, reporters are hearing dozens more that will not be published, because women won’t go on the record in an industry still run by the people they want to name,” wrote Rebecca Traister for “The Cut.”
As someone who sat on the Domestic Violence Management Board, Dua says there needs to be structures put in place to thoroughly comb the issue just as meticulously as the current audits happening within Ghana’s finance sector.
But in the meantime, he offers this piece of advice:
“Parents, know your children. Talk to your children. Be bold and feel free to talk about sex."