Community Aid for Rural Development (CARD Ghana) has concluded its Senior High Schools (SHSs) engagements on sexual harassment and force marriages for the last quarter of 2024 at the Wa Islamic Senior High School in Wa, Upper West Region.
The sensitization, held on Tuesday, December 05, 2023, formed part of a series of engagements undertaken in five selected SHSs in the Wa Municipality.
The other schools in which the sensitization was held include Wa Senior High, Jamiat Islamic Senior High, T.I Ahmadiyya Senior High and Wa Senior High Technical Schools.
Miss Ernestina Biney, the Acting Executive Director of CARD Ghana, said the school outreaches were aimed at sensitizing female students to sexual harassment and force marriages.
“And our message is for girls to be aware that sexual harassment can destroy their lives and because of that they should not fall as a victim,” she told Info Radio.
She indicated that girls sometimes fall victims to sexual harassment due to how they dress and their penchant for material things, which conducts the sensitization sought to address.
“So our advice to girls is that they should be wise, they should know that they own their bodies and therefore, they shouldn’t allow anyone to deceive them for material things because most men would mostly tell girls that ‘I will give you phone, I’ll give you money, I’ll buy this for you’ and because of that most girls fall victims to sexual harassment,” she said.
Miss Biney encouraged the girls to report any instances of sexual harassment to appropriate authorities, such as the police, teachers, health workers, and community leaders, for redress.
She also called on the general public to join hands in eliminating sexual harassment on girls.
The Upper West Regional Coordinator of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU), DSP Apiiya Adonga, addressing the subject of sexual abuse, told the girls that rape was the commonest form of sexual abuse most females face in the society which the girls should be wary of.
DSP Adonga told the girls that evidence was key to investigating and prosecuting reported cases of rape such as evidence of force, threat, screams, possible body scratches and torn dresses.
He admonished girls who may experience rape to not bath or wash off their bodies and dresses the evidence before reporting.
DSP Adonga said other acts that constitute or result in sexual abuse included defilement, incest, abduction, indecent assault, child and force marriages, and unnatural canal knowledge.
He noted that scratching around the genitalia, bleeding, sleeplessness, emotional trauma, quietness and isolation, and loss of appetite are signs that someone may be undergoing sexual abuse.
Some of the girls who participated in the sensitization session shared their experiences with Info Radio.
“Child marriage itself can lead to interrupted education. The girl would not be able to continue her education because mostly when a girl is married, there’s no way that you would not have sex and it can lead to teenage pregnancy and with that, you would give birth and cannot continue your education,” Lookman Fatima Olanto, a student, said.
“I would like to tell my colleague girls that we shouldn’t rush, we should wait for the appropriate time to come before we marry. If you rush into it [sex and/or marriage], you would be in a big problem and you can never solve it again,” another student, Amadu Barikisu Bari, said.