A depressing message about how awfully wrong certain things can go in sections of our society has been brought to attention by the mounting rape and defilement cases recorded in the Ledzokuku-Krowor municipality in the Greater Accra Region. (See page 3).
It is quite mind-boggling that in these days when societies are expected to be thinking out ways to get out of poverty and achieve higher standards of living, some communities allow themselves to be held back by silly, beastly acts such as rape and defilement.
One cannot tell what is making men in the municipality assume that women are there for the taking and could be treated anyhow, sexually. Maybe it is a way of the men showing off their virility, but they would be better admired if they rather worked harder at whatever jobs they did and became more responsible at home.
The frightening aspect of this whole scenario is that the records reflect only the cases reported to the health facilities or the police. We cannot pretend this is not an extremely urgent matter that must be tackled immediately.
In places such as India and South Africa where rape and defilement are fairly common crimes, women’s lives are virtually of no value. They are abused and killed routinely. We could be setting ourselves off on a similar route if the rape and defilement crisis in the Ledzokuku-Krowor municipality is not given urgent attention.
There may be similar situations pertaining in other parts of the country, but once this particular menace has been identified, we will do ourselves a lot of good if we take steps to contain it.
Like the way it happens in many other places, the perpetrators are often known to the victims. Sometimes they are even close relatives, and that brings about the issue of ‘home settlement’, whereby perpetrators are made to pay token amounts as compensation for their misdeeds.
Surely the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service and other relevant state outfits must exert some authority to curb this ‘home settlement’ affair.
Though rape victims commonly report injuries and issues with their reproductive health after the sexual abuse, the most common and lasting effects of rape involve mental health concerns and diminished social confidence.
Experts maintain that one of the most common psychological consequences of rape is self-blame. Victims use self-blame as an avoidance-based coping tool. Self-blame slows, or, in many cases, stops the healing process.
Other common emotional and psychological effects of rape include feelings of severe anxiety and stress, sleep and eating disorders and distrust of others.
Perpetrators must be prosecuted and handed the appropriate punishment, no matter what families of the victims say. The reality is that it is the victims who suffer the physical and psychological traumas that result from their ordeals. No other people should be allowed to negotiate some negligible amounts in the name of compensation.
Perpetrators of those crimes in the municipality have, somehow, been emboldened by the lack of prosecution and severe punishment to carry on with their negative acts. They must be dealt with more harshly to save our women and children.