A GNA Feature by Eunice Hilda Ampomah, GNA
Defilement and rape, though still an anomaly and criminal in Ghana’s law, is still fertilized by the inner nature of perpetrators in Ghana and many parts of the world.
Rape according to section 98 of Act 29, of the 1992 Constitution, is having carnal knowledge of a female of not less than 16 years without her consent, while Defilement is defined in section 101 (2) of Act 29 as natural or unnatural carnal knowledge of a child under 16 years of age with or without the child’s consent.
Effects of the two
Defiled and raped victims tend to suffer severe traumatic attacks, physical bruises of tears, emotional challenges and anti-social trials among others. If fortunes of life don’t intervene, the victim might never recover her life back.
In 2018, the then National Coordinator of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, Superintendent Evelyn Borbor, said at a campaign launch dubbed: “I stand against rape and defilement” in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Education Service and the Rich Media Consult, a charitable organisation, that her office received an average of 20 cases of defilement and 10 rape cases nationwide every month.
In 2017, she said the Unit recorded 790 cases of defilement and 307 cases of rape, adding that the figures could escalate if actions were not taken to curb the menace.
According to the U.S. Department of State Human Rights Reports on Ghana, the DOVVSU in 2015, received 1,197 complaints of suspected defilement and 15 cases of attempted defilement, however the true number of cases was believed to be much higher.
In 2019, DOVVSU recorded a rise in defilement cases up to 1,270, while rape cases stood at 369.
One step to control the situation has been the encouragement of victims and their guardians to report the criminal attack to the police for appropriate measures to be taken, however, the question is, is justice always served and is it always available for the poor person who deserves it within Ghana’s court systems?
The story of four-year old Cindy is as pathetic as that of many others who suffered sexual assault nationwide and beyond.
As a poor little girl full of life, with a single parent, Cindy was asked to accompany her mother to a prayer camp in Accra to have a quiet time in line with their personal beliefs and religious faith.
On the way, a neighbour opted to cater for the little girl, to enable her mother to visit the camp conveniently.
Cindy’s mother, Madam Gifty Sarfowaa said she returned and while she tried to bath her daughter in the evening, Cindy was bleeding abnormally, such that she could not withstand it when her mother tried to wash her genitals due to severe pain.
Madam Sarfowaa said: “An old woman in the house came to check the girl and said she was sexually abused. I couldn’t believe my ears so I took her to the police station and one female police officer examined her and reiterated the same suspicion and asked us to go to the hospital for expert check-up, after which our conviction was confirmed.
“My daughter was torn into pieces and she struggled to sleep for nights due to pain from wounds that were refusing to heal for almost a year. When we noticed the unusual changes on her, we asked her consistently to disclose who did that to her, but she refused and denied that no one had done anything to her. After sometime, she told us that one particular mason had slept with her and warned her to hold back the truth or be murdered.”
Apparently, Madam Sarfowaa said the girl was playing outside her neighbour’s house and one of the constructors working on a nearby building who knew them came around to play briefly with Cindy, then carried her on his shoulder to the uncompleted building on which he was working to force himself on her, as helpless as she was.
Cindy said: “I was scared because the man told me he would kill me if I told anyone especially my mother. I didn’t want to die although I was suffering within and I didn’t want to miss seeing my mum again because she is all I’ve got.”
Madam Sarfowaa said her daughter is the only family she has as Cindy’s father travelled abroad and for years had not contacted them.
She explained: “The police lined up about 20 men who were working on the building for Cindy to identify the suspect. She looked at their faces and said it was none of them. They later made her turn back towards them and asked another mason who came in late to join the line and asked the girl to turn back and look through again.
“Cindy then gazed at their faces again and pointed at the new person they had added and said he was the one who defiled her.”
Madam Sarfowaa said the suspect was kept in police custody for two weeks while investigation was ongoing and fingers were crossed for justice to be served.
However, she lamented that processing got fishy and subsequently, the police and judge who were on the side of justice suddenly turned their backs on them and stood in defense of the accused.
She said some of the police officers and judge had allegedly being bribed by the owner of the building on which the suspect worked, who was identified to be a well-to-do person, according to a
“They then said the girl was confused and so they had to grant the accused bail. Afterwards, I went to the police to hand over to me all my daughter’s medical reports and documents, but they refused with an excuse that they were still being used in the system, until now.” she said.
“At the court room, I was boiling, and could feel my temperature was high, I was sweating and went to kneel before the judge and told her to turn up to God above and let justice prevail. Out of pain, I told her to reconsider her decision especially as she was also a woman and could have a daughter or granddaughter, drawing her mind to the law of karma, but all to no avail.”
Later, Madam Sarfowaa said she had to give all her pain to God and look for funds to treat her daughter who got well almost a year after the incidence.
Cindy is currently eight-years old and out of school. Her mother has developed cataract in both eyes and has managed to go for surgery for one due to hard financial problems.
However, how to purchase eye drops for the corrected eye has been a challenge and she can barely work to cater for her child who is vulnerable.
Madam Sarfowaa and Cindy have been evicted from their rented room at Ashaley-Botwe Santor due to their inability to renew their advance payment, and have had no option than to settle at a prayer camp in the vicinity.
Cindy is a beautiful girl, one who appears appealing to many people who come across her. Being left to run around the house with a mother who might not be able to protect her well enough due to financial problems and her inability to see well is pathetic and frightening.
Considering the future of Cindy, she is still young now and very naïve and innocent, however, the fear is will she still choose to live in extreme poverty with her mother after few years when she starts hearing words of admiration from men who opt to have relationship with her to cater for all her financial needs?
Will she let go all that in the name of protecting her dignity as a woman when she is hungry?
How would her future be if she does not get support to go back to school? Who else does she hope to lean on tomorrow apart from her mother?
Many people could be going through similar situations as that of Cindy or worse, without courage and voice to speak for themselves probably because they are poor, meek, lowly and vulnerable.
Who will be their voice and savior? Who will restore hope and joy in their lives? Who will make them feel that society is for all and not a few bourgeoisies?