Women and young girls in the Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipality (LEKMA) in the Greater Accra Region continue to live in fear of being raped as the municipality records increasing rape and sexual assault cases.
According to statistics from the hospital, in 2015 alone, about 30 cases were reported, with only a few being allowed to go through the courts by either the victim or her relatives.
Last year, 2016, recorded the highest number of cases so far with 52, while the first quarter of 2017 has a scary figure of about 20.
The situation is just a fraction of reported cases of rape nationwide where in 2014 alone, the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service had 335 women and young girls being raped and 1,296 defiled.
The Criminal Offences Act (Act 29) defines rape as having carnal knowledge of a female aged 16 years and above without her consent, while defilement is defined as having the natural or unnatural carnal knowledge of any child below 16 years.
For defilement, whoever commits this offence with or without the victim’s consent shall be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than seven years and not more than 25 years.
At Teshie and its surrounding communities for instance, majority of the victims are raped or defiled by their relatives, while a few of them are caused by unknown persons.
In some instances, the victim may be gang-raped by some unscrupulous persons within the community, a situation that sends shivers down the spines of the young girls in the area.
According to the Clinical Psychologist at the LEKMA Hospital, Mrs Charlotte Esi Myers, the situation might be worse partly because the facility only has numbers for reported cases.
“There is a case in Teshie involving a girl who went to shave her hair at a barber’s shop; the barber locked his shop and raped her and left for town. He came back late at night and raped her again until the next day,” she told The Mirror.
Unfortunately, Mrs Myers stated that a lot of the perpetrators of the criminal activity were usually able to pay their way out.
For instance, she indicated that victims of rape and defilement within Teshie and its surrounding communities usually negotiated and settled the cases at home at a cost of GH¢500 which is paid to the victim and the family.
“Now the schools, together with the community and police stations are all not safe because culprits lurk around in all those places.”
“A Catholic priest who was a headmaster in one of the schools over here was once involved in fingering a little girl. In all of these, my pain is that these criminals are able to pay their way out in spite of how hard we fight for the victims,” she emphasised.
Three public health nurses at LEKMA Hospital: Ms Emelia Mensah, Ms Theresa Leetsoo Adams and Ms Grace Mohenu, all confirmed several incidents where the victims had come to the facility to abort their pregnancies because they were either raped or sexually abused by their relatives.
Ebola of LEKMA
An obstetrician and gynaecologist at the hospital, Dr Helen Naa Oyo Akaba, described the rape situation in the area as the Ebola of LEKMA since it was increasing each day.
Dr Akaba, who looked angry, told The Mirror that women and young girls were raped at any time as though that was the order of the day in the municipality.
She narrated an incident where a foreign student had come to do an internship at the facility and was raped by an unknown person one time after work at night.
“A victim (whose case I was handling) was followed by the perpetrator to the hospital one time and he boldly told me that if I had feelings, I wouldn’t be asking why women were raped continuously in the area.”
“That is how endemic rape and defilement cases have become in this municipality. So long as culprits go unpunished, stopping it might not be easy,” she added.
Effect on victims
Cases of sexual violence, however, pose serious psychological and physical consequences to the victims, families and community as a whole.
Psychological consequences include fear, confusion, anxiety, withdrawal, shame or guilt, and distrust.
Physically, victims have genital injuries, gynaecological complications, unwanted pregnancies, cervical cancers and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
“There is a case I’m handling currently where the lady was raped when she was young. She is now afraid to have sex with her husband despite all efforts by the husband.”
“As a result, the husband has to force to have sex with her. That is the severity of the situation we are talking about,” she said.
The Municipal Health Director, Ms Jacqueline Sfarijlani, said all stakeholders have to come on board for the situation to be tackled through a multi-sectoral approach.
She said the management of the hospital had planned building a resource centre to educate young girls in the area on rape and what to do to prevent it from happening.
“We believe that the girls need more than reporting. So as a hospital, we have planned to build a resource centre to counsel these young girls,” she emphasised.