Even though Defilement is a criminal offence that attracts a minimum sentence of seven and a maximum of 25 years in Ghana’s Criminal Law and the Domestic Violence Act, 2007, some callous men still engage in the practice without remorse.
Young girls, who are the future leaders expected to contribute to national development are being cruelly bruised, broken physically and emotionally and sometimes killed by men in society who should rather protect them.
Various reportage on the issue, reveal a deafening trend of the canker, with toddlers as young as two years, being defiled by men of all ages on daily basis.
In most cases, the girls are defiled by family members, and trusted men in the society and its debilitating effects later in the lives on the victims could be mistrust, loss of self-worth and fear while some may even engage in child prostitution later.
To say that defilement cases are on the rise is an understatement as a day never passes without a reported incident at the law courts. It has reached an alarming rate, leaving its victims in physical pain, emotional turmoil and psychological traumas.
In April this year, the Central Regional Police Commander, Commissioner of Police (COP) Rev David Nenyi Ampah-Bennin, described as “worrying” the upsurge in defilement cases in the Region putting the figure at 273 in 2016 as against 191 in the previous year, representing a 42.9 percent increase.
According to statistics from DOVVSU last year, 5,752 children including eight boys were defiled in Ghana between 2010 and 2014 with 342 of them being perpetrated by family members.
This is just the tip of the iceberg because they represent the reported cases as the girls only admit when someone finds out.
Many victims of defilement are suffering in silence due to fear while the perpetrators, who cow them into fear and submission with threats of harm and death, walk freely with impunity waiting to pounce on their next victim.
Chilling stories of how girls as young as eight years are being defiled on daily basis by unscrupulous, indecent and shameless men unfolded when the girls are coaxed by their teachers to confide in them.
So appalling are the abuses told by the girls that, the teachers at the Girls’ Basic School in Cape Coast who also double as counselors had to engage external counselors to meet the girls after they recounted their harrowing, horrendous and nightmarish experiences in turns.
First to gather the courage to break the ice after weeks of persuasions was Araba, (borrowed) who smiled sweetly as she entered the office, revealed a dark gloomy eyes behind that smile fidgeting with her book. May I confide in you, Madam, she said, and bent down her head.
After assuring her of confidentiality, 10-year-old Araba, a class three pupil, who stays with her mistress, told the counselor how her mistress’ fiancé had been having oral sex with her each time she was sent to his house on errands, amidst threats of death.
She told the counselor that though she abhors the practice, particularly when the man pressed her head down to force his manhood into her mouth, a practice she said left her neck aching, she kept her secret for fear of losing her life, adding, the man sometimes inserted his finger in her vagina.
Rema, another beautiful, 12 –year- old class five pupil, said, her step-brother who was in Senior High School had been forcibly having sexual intercourse with her at the blind side of their parents. He had also threatened her with death.
She said even though the act was painful, she had no choice because, she did not want to die.
Zeny’s story was that, her landlord whose grand children were her age, took advantage of her any time her mum travels outside. She is 11 years old and in Primary four.
Others said they were defiled by their fathers’ friends, uncles, cotenants, grandmother’s boyfriend, blood brothers, Area Boys and male teachers.
One girl said she was defiled by the husband of her mother’s friend when she was left in their care. Some of the girls shed bitter tears as they narrated their ordeals. One of them had been defiled twice by unknown men.
According to her, she was sent by her mother at night only to be pulled by a man on the footpath, who covered her face with a piece of cloth and dragged her into the bush. She regained consciousness only to see blood oozing out of her private part.
Some good Samaritans who saw her at dawn sent her to the hospital. In the second incident, an unidentified man defiled her in a public washroom.
These are just a few of the sad realities of defilement cases in many communities across the country which will leave many of the victims emotionally scarred for life if not checked.
But for the vigilance of the teachers, these barbaric acts would have remained uncovered while the academic performance of many of the girls, who were hitherto excelling, kept dwindling.
The victims pleaded that their stories should not be told because of fear, saying they would be blamed and even brutalised by their parents and guardians though others said their parents or guardians were not ready to listen when they tried to speak out.
“My mother shouts at me each time I make the attempt to tell her and would ask me to read my book or do a house chore”.
This disturbing trend is a clear indication that many girls are keeping dark secretes that would eventually affect their emotional and cognitive development.
Many girls are growing into timid, fearful and shy young women whose academic performances are suffering as a result of the canker.
Another source of great concern is that, many of the victims have not reached their menarche, but are being introduced to early sex which will eventually destroy them psychologically and physiologically in future.
There have been instances where the cases in the court are so dehumanising that relatives of the victims break down and wail uncontrollably because their girls have been maimed for life.
An example was an eight year old girl whose raptured womb had to be removed through surgery to save her life after she had been brutally defiled by a 38 year old watchman.
After the incident, parents and guardians were asked to give maximum attention to their wards, develop close relationship with them and engage in conversation to help unfold the issues. Professional counselors should work on victims to help heal the scars.
Parents and guardians should desist from settling such cases at home but report to the law enforcement agencies to bring the culprits to book.
Concerted efforts must be made by stakeholders to deal with the canker. First, parents should conscientise their girls about the dangers posed by irresponsible men and report such cases for immediate action.
Parents and guardians must desist from sending their girls on errands late and unaccompanied, pay attention to their actions, frequently engage them in conversations to share their fears and dreams and be careful whom they leave their girls with.
Counseling units in schools should help in educating girls on such issues as well as help heal girls who have already fallen victim.
The law enforcement agencies should promptly prosecute defilement cases whilst maximum sentence should be encouraged to serve as deterrent.
The state must train more clinical psychologists to facilitate the healing of girls who have been traumatized by recalcitrant, shameless men.
All hands should be on deck to rid the country of irresponsible men who parade as fathers, uncles, friends, teachers, stepfathers and brothers.
By Alice Tettey
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