When it happens, for the most part, the victim – either male or female, would rather not talk about it. The trauma, the shame, the fear of being victimized and blamed for being raped, which is as a result of no fault of theirs.
Sometimes, when the victims are bold enough to tell someone, it is mostly treated as a family matter settled at home, when the culprit is a relative. Information from people who have researched into rape claim that most of the time, people are raped by relatives and friends… It’s mostly someone you know.
It is common for families to either ignore the rape allegation all together when the culprit is a close relative or family friend. When any sort of action is taken, there is a family meeting and the culprit is made to apologise and that would be it.
We have traditional leaders interfering whenever an allegation of rape or defilement is made, just as it happened in the case of little Sarah, whose paternal grandfather narrated her harrowing sexual abuse story to Kuulpeeps.com on condition of anonymity for him and his grandchild, it’s fair to state that Sarah is not the actual name of the little one whose story we’re about to tell you.
Little Sarah, before she turned 2 years old was sexually abused by her maternal grandmother’s landlord.
According to Sarah’s grandfather whom we will call Mike, Sarah and her aunt were in the landlord’s room as the aunt cleaned the room. He explained it was a normal chore for Sarah’s aunt who regularly cleaned their landlord’s room since he doesn’t have a wife.
According to Sarah’s aunt, while she was cleaning the living room, Sarah went into the landlord’s bedroom, while he was also there. Minutes later, she heard Sarah scream from the bedroom and Sarah came into the living room crying and pointing towards her private parts.
It was later that they realised that a liquid substance that looked like sperms were on Sarah’s vagina.
Sarah, who was in pain later that night was rushed to a local hospital but that didn’t help as she fell ill again about a week later.
Upon a second visit to the local hospital, they were directed to the Korle Bu Poly Clinic without a referral note… That also resulted in a back and forth which eventually ended them at the gynaecological emergency unit at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital that handles sexual abuse cases.
While little Sarah battled for her life, the landlord who had then been arrested by the police was also on remand.
Sarah got better but the lax nature of the Ghana court system also reared its ugly head. The case was adjourned numerous times. While the landlord was languishing in jail, traditional authorities in the area also sent a delegation to Sarah’s maternal grandmother to urge her to withdraw the case from court.
This is the traditional authority interference that aids rape culture. The grandmother refused to do that but then the court system again with its numerous adjournment, ultimately made the case a foolish case.
Rape culture can be said to exist when social construction helps promote the pervasiveness of rape in a given society.
When we have traditional leaders intervening and pleading on the behalf on rape culprits with no punishment and sense of responsibility, rape thrives.
When it takes more than a week to gain proper healthcare for rape victims, then the victim is punished two times over while the perpetrator gets a slap on the wrist.
When older people are allowed to pass unsolicited sexual remarks or sexually objectify people and they are regarded as mere jokes, that’s also a problem.
For the most part, the rape victims prefer not to tell anyone about their ordeal and it is for this reason that the Ghana Police Service statistics on the rape cases in Ghana between 2015 to 2017 is staggering.
According to data from the Statistics and Information Unit of the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service rape cases have been on the rise since 2015.
In 2015, 451 rape cases were reported, that went up to 497 cases in 2016 and ultimately to 514 cases in 2017, that means that at least someone was paid every day for three years continuously.
Now, it is either the incidences of rape are going up or more people are having the courage to report cases to the police when it happens.
Also, with some victims fearing stigma when they are raped, some prefer not reporting the case to the police at all. This suggests that the numbers above could be higher in reality.
It is everybody’s responsibility to make sure that issues of sexual abuse are not trivialised but are treated with the seriousness it deserves.
Some say we have to believe rape victims when they come out to tell us their story, but then there have been times when people have falsely accused others.
It’s perhaps time we stop certain cultural practices we do unconsciously, such as allowing an old man to call a young girl “my wife” or an older woman calling a young boy “my husband”.
“Boys will be boys,” “men will be men,” jokingly betrothing children, when the victim is accused of what they were wearing, ‘why were you in the person’s room’, ‘why were you walking alone?’
‘He’s a man’, ‘he can’t control himself’, all of these are some excuses and accusation given to a victim of sexual abuse.
It is time we deconstruct and move away from such off the cuff comments that just goes a long way of bolstering the ego of both men and women who are sexual predators and simply refuse to KNOW NO.