Mr Anthony Boateng Bediako, Director of Abuse Relief Corps (ARC), has advised parents to develop strong relationships with their children, especially the girls to enable them to disclose their sexual encounters to them.
He said one thing that encouraged continuation of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) was the inability on the part of children to confide in their parents with sexual harassment or abuse encounters.
ARC is a nongovernmental organisation that seeks justice for abused women and children, and provide shelter for victims of abuse who no longer feel safe in their environment. It also provides self-defense training for girls to escape abusive situations.
Mr Boateng made the comment on Thursday at a Media Engagement organised by the ARC with support from UNICEF on SGBV in Accra.
Between October 2020 and January 2021, 69 cases of SGBV cases were reported with three boys being victims, and the perpetrators were 17 years and above who were close relatives of the victims and family acquaintances, he said.
He said poverty was a great cause of SGBV as some of the perpetuators had opportunities to abuse the children because they provided financial support to them.
“Some teenage girls may be in a relationship with an elderly person who might be sexually abusing them but they can barely voice it out because they are their caretakers,” he said.
Such situations, the Director said made it difficult for survivors to call for justice.
Madam Christiana Azure Ayinzoya, a Regional Girls’ Education Officer, Ghana Education Service, said the Service was sensitising girls to know that teachers were not allowed to wrongfully touch them, pass sexual comments about them nor praise them sexually.
She asked students who became victims of sexual harassment and abuse to with all boldness report the perpetrators to the appropriate authorities for the requisite measures to be taken against them.
She said the GES was also discouraging the use of certain words like ‘fireman’ instead of ‘firefighter’ to empower or embolden girls to take up certain courses and fields that were male-dominated.
Madam Ayinzoya said the GES believed child birth should not be a barrier to education, hence 2,720 girls got back to school after child birth between 2016 and 2017, while 3,212 got back between 2018 and 2019 after policies were developed to enable teenage mothers to go back to school.
She advised teachers to stop using discouraging words like “You are too dumb, never come to my class again” among others on their students as that dumped their spirit entirely in academics.
On the part of Mrs Abena Dufie Akonu-Atta, the Head of the Care Perform Initiative/Residential Home Management Unit, Department of Social Welfare, it was time for victims of sexual abuse to report their encounters to the police or the Department for appropriate measures to be taken.
She asked parents whose children suffered sexual abuse not to let fees for medical examination be a hindrance or an excuse to prevent them from reporting the cases.
Sometimes challenges the Department faced was where to accommodate the victims while seeking justice for them to ensure their security, she said, and appealed to corporate institutions and nongovernment organisations who had structures not in use to give them out to support such victims.