The Northern Regional Coordinator of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Mr Emmanuel Holortu, has expressed concern over what he described as “the increasing interference of religious leaders in cases of domestic violence reported in the region.”
He said a number of victims of sexual offences such as rape, defilement, unnatural canal knowledge, among others, did not report to the unit due to advice they received from their pastors and Imams to keep the issues from the police.
“Most of the families of the victims sometimes report to the unit when such cases get worse, with the explanation that the pastors and imams had sat on the cases to resolve it properly between the victims and the perpetrators’ families,” he said.
He said because some perpetrators of crimes related to sexual abuse were not punished, they took advantage of the situation to continue to commit such offences.
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He indicated that the practice was hampering the successful prosecution of perpetrators of crimes related to domestic violence.
DSP Holortu has, therefore, urged victims of sexual abuses to report to the police for offenders to be brought to book in order to serve as deterrent to others.
“We as a unit will also not relent in our role in bringing to book all persons in society who would want to undermine the laws of sexual offences,” he said.
DSP Holortu added that the unit recorded 22 rape cases in 2017 as against the 18 cases it recorded in 2016.
He said the unit recorded a total of 644 cases of sexual assault in 2016, made up of 18 cases of rape, 24 cases of defilement and 268 cases of assault, last year, as compared to 663 cases recorded in 2017, made up of 22 rape cases, 34 cases of defilement 275 cases of assault.24 defilement cases and 268 cases of assault.
He expressed worry that some of the parents of the victims also made it difficult for the unit to successfully prosecute offenders brought before it.
“Some of the family members of the victims in some cases tend to rally behind the perpetrator rather than supporting the victim, just because they might have been forced to keep quiet,” DSP Holortu said.
He explained that there were times that some family members of the victims would come to the police asking them to withdraw the case from court, with the explanation that they had settled the cases amicably.