Child rape is a form of sexual abuse which is commonly referred to as defilement in Ghana is a serious problem of sexual exploitation in the Ghana and in other parts of West Africa. According to section 101 of the Criminal and Other Offences Act, Act 29/60 of Ghana, defilement is the natural or unnatural carnal knowledge of a child under sixteen years of age.
Over the years there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of child which is commonly referred to in Ghana as defilement from 981 cases in 2009 to 1,228 cases in 2013 according to the official figure of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit of the Ghana police service 2014 report.
In my opinion this situation is alarming because very little is done in terms of government policy as well as religious groups to educate and to raise awareness of the problem of sexual abuse. To me, the difficulty within the Ghanaian society where we have this conservative attitude toward discussing sexuality and sexual issues makes it easy to deny the occurrence of sexual abuse to a point that people don’t even recognize when a sexual crime is being committed.
As a result of inadequate advocacy and education there is a general lack of awareness of family members about how to identify and deal with the trauma of sexual abuse. The situation is compounded by poverty that leaves many children selling on the streets trying to make a living contribute immensely to the problem of sexual abuse as they become easily accessible to perpetrators. In addition the sharing of private space by a great number of people in a house hold may be a risk for child rape by older people in their homes and neighborhood.
The saying that prevention is better than cure needs to be taken seriously in our culture. The need to identify preventative measures to prevent child abuse instead of curative especially in a country where there is very little mental health services to deal with the negative impacts of child rape and sexualized violence in the country.
Ghanaians need a reforming attitudinal change toward sexual violence of children. There are very few religious and civil society organizations who work in the area of prevention and caring for victims of child rape. Although the issue of defilement is a daily occurrence in the society as evidence in police reports and national news paper articles. Some radio station do report child rape cases sometime even bringing victims on their live programs to tell their stories mostly as a way of marketing their radio programs rather than a deep concern for the victims of abuse and their journey to recovery and healing.
The adverse effects can be very damaging for victims’ education and general well being. How can we, as adults ensure that children are well protected at our homes, schools, religious and social gatherings as well as similar avenues that see to the general welfare and growth of children? This means that it is a duty for parents, teachers, religious groups, victims and all in our society must rise up to speak against defilement because it is a threat to our children.
Click here to read the Acts of Ghana – Criminal Code, 1960