“Parents, know your children. Talk to your children. Be bold and feel free to talk about sex,” says an expert.
Following the three-year imprisonment sentence of a teacher who was charged with sexually abusing a nine-year-old, legal expert Dennis Adjei Dwomoh is advocating for massive reforms of Ghana’s laws on sexual offences.
“There is a problem with the law and there needs to be a special discretion when it comes to children,” Dwomoh told Daniel Dadzie on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Thursday.
Earlier this month, Joy News reported on Obroni Morrison, a private school teacher who inserted his fingers inside the vagina of a nine-year-old child. According to the student, whose name has been withheld, Morrison assaulted her after ordering all the pupils to leave the classroom.
“When I started writing, he came closer and rubbed his hands over my head and said my father has asked him to provide all my needs,” she told Joy News’ Maxwell Agbabga. “He put me on one of the tables and started inserting his fingers into my genitals. It was painful, I started struggling with him.”
Last year, rape cases in the country soared to 514 cases reported to the Ghana Police Service. Dozens have called on the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Protection to intervene, specifically for children, Dwomoh insists.
“Our courts are not child-friendly. We as a country have not done enough. As a State, we have not fulfilled our duties as written in the Constitution.”
He further added that a solution would be to set up a government-backed fund for child abuse victims.
“We need to have a designation by law to be able to demand money for these children. Every year the government says there is no money. If there is no fund for victims nothing is done.”
Nortey Dua, a clinical psychologist based in Accra says people like Morrison should know that with actions come repercussions.
“We need to set up a society that says, ‘hey this can’t happen here, and if it does, you will pay a price.’”
In other countries around the world, Dua noted, the names, pictures and addresses of convicted sex offenders are posted online as a way to inform the public of where perps live.
“We have not reached that level of sophistication,” said Dua. “But there are basic things that we can do to limit this.”
One of those things is to alert a trusted family member or friend when one becomes a victim of assault, said Joy FM’s Animwaa Anim Addo, who applauds the girl for coming forward after the harrowing ordeal. Far too often, she said, victims remain silent out of fear and shame.
“We have a culture of not drawing boundaries when it comes to touching,” she said. “It is not acceptable when we do not define those boundaries and culturally, we are setting ourselves up for problems.”
In 2017, the #MeToo movement spread internationally in workplaces and homes. Countless women and men used the hashtag as an attempt to protest against sexual misconduct.
“For every one of these stories of harassment and predation finally seeing the light of day, reporters are hearing dozens more that will not be published, because women won’t go on the record in an industry still run by the people they want to name,” wrote Rebecca Traister for “The Cut.”
As someone who sat on the Domestic Violence Management Board, Dua says there need to be structures put in place to thoroughly comb the issue just as meticulously as the current audits happening within Ghana’s finance sector.
But in the meantime, he offers this piece of advice: “Parents, know your children. Talk to your children. Be bold and feel free to talk about sex.”