With the increasing number of cases of sexual violence among children in Ghana, the nation is in a state of insanity. The future of our children is in danger! It is time for us as Ghanaians to reflect on the future we want our children to have while putting in relevant measures to ensure it.
I strongly believe that state agencies have a role to play as well as parents themselves.
I believe in the best interest of the child, free movement, and respect for the child’s views developed by the Convention of the Rights of the Child by the UN and the Children’s Act of Ghana.
It is on these principles that children need to be protected from sexual perpetrators and be treated with dignity as humans in spite of their fragile nature.
The protection and integrity of the child have been jeopardized due to sexual violence. A report by Plan Ghana on Child Sexual Violence in the country revealed that out of 100 sexual violence cases who had been molested, 53 actually occurred in school. The other 43 took place at home.
Likewise, a 2016 report revealed that a total of 5,752 children were sexually violated in Ghana between 2010 and 2014. Among these cases, 342 were perpetrated by family members of the victims. Statistics from the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU), shows that almost all of the 1,298 cases reported in 2014 had female victims with eight of the victims being males.
The unavailability of a recognized and functioning shelter for abused children in the country is a precursor to this problem. The absence of such a shelter that helps children to recover from the violence and rebuild their self-esteem makes the situation worse.
Though the state has reneged on its responsibility, it is never too late to rekindle state agencies such as the Ghana police, DOVVSU and the social welfare unit. This is possible when state agencies are well resourced and financed to carry out their duties.
Recently, Supreme Court Judge Sophia Ophelia Adjeibea, proposed a modification of Ghana’s Criminal Law to make sexual violence a first-degree felony in the quest to alleviate the growing problem.
Kudos to the court but that is not all. Tackling the problem only through legal frameworks is not enough. We may just address the symptoms and the tip of child sexual violence if we are only looking at ‘what courts and the police can do’ without putting in practical efforts.
What then happens if you report the incident and the police doesn’t handle the situation very well?
This implies that parents have a role in fighting the problem. There is the need for parents to inculcate into children the confidence and the courage to speak up regardless of the threats they may receive from perpetrators. Training children to be confident doesn’t come on a silver platter.
It entails an effort of constantly assuring children of their worth and value. The confidence of children should be nurtured to enable them to voice out whenever they are abused. This is because children are likely to live up to what you believe of them and what you instil in them.
Also, parents have to educate their children about what abusive behaviour is since most are ignorant about
It is a matter of urgency that we safeguard our children from sexual violence. As Ghanaians, we have the responsibility to defend and protect our children irrespective of our status.
Though it is someone’s child today, it could be your child tomorrow. This is the time to build strong children rather than repair broken men and women tomorrow.
With this, I agree with the Child Protection Social Drive that was launched with the theme: “Ghanaians Rallying Against Abuse of Children”. Yes! The time is now.
Columnist: Melody R K Frempong
Children and youth Activist Student