RAPE IS one of the most serious forms of sexual assault punishable by law in Ghana. It is a first degree felony and a person found guilty of the offence is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not less than five years and not more than 25 years under the Criminal Offences Act (Act 29/60).
In spite of its tough penalties and harsh punishments, the crime continues to record high figures among various criminal cases recorded by the police. In 2013 alone the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service recorded 484 cases of rape and the figure constituted reported cases only, although there could be more. Again, out of the reported cases, the perpetrators were mostly men either known or familiar to the victim a relative, neighbour, religious leader, colleague at the work place, boss, school mate, etc. Those committed by strangers were mostly perpetrated together with other criminal offences like robbery or other related violent crimes.
Section 98 of the Criminal Offences Act (Act 29/60) defines rape as the carnal knowledge of a female of sixteen years or above without her consent. To prove carnal knowledge in any rape case requires the proof of the least degree of penetration. Even the slightest penetration without rupturing the hymen is sufficient evidence to proof rape.
There have been instances where culprits of this crime have argued that they could not be criminally liable for rape because the victims hymen was not ruptured or there were no evidence of injury caused to the genitals. They also sometimes claim that penetration of the vulva by the penis was without emission of semen and could therefore not constitute rape. These and more other reasons are the defences put up by suspects of rape. Im sorry! The evidence in proofing rape in law does not regard some of these flimsy excuses.
The question of why people sexually abuse their victims although may be for diverse web of variables, some common reasons remain for sexual pleasure or gratification, unbridled sexual desire, to humiliate or intimidate their victims, taking undue advantage of vulnerable women, challenge to established patriarchy, relaxed punishment systems to set strong precedent among others.
In many instances, cases of rape and sexual assault never get reported with reasons being that most victims feel ashamed of the incident, worried about not being believed, the tendency of being blamed by people, not sure of having a good case of rape before the courts, the possibility of being stigmatized. Other times also victims fear going to court to pursue justice because they think their case may attract the media who are likely to give them unnecessary publicity.
There may not be time limits for reporting rape, but reporting sexual violence as early as possible is recommended. This is to enable investigators and medical experts gather enough evidence of the attacker such as fluids, hairs, fibers and useful clues for forensic examination. You also stand a better chance of getting good medical care and also tested for sexually transmitted infections.
Rape must be reported and pursued at all times for justice. Early last week we heard of a 19-year-old senior high school leaver who had allegedly accused an associate pastor of rape. She reported the case as expected but the moment she suspected an omission or inaction on the side of the police, she used every means available to her to pursue the case. Although the case is still in court, it is enough indication that she will receive justice where it is due.
Since it is the desire of most women advocates and human rights activists to see to the total extinction of this crime, women must endeavour to also reduce the risk of becoming rape victims. In as much as I believe some of the rape cases are unsuspecting and unavoidable, most could be avoided. Most victims occasionally perceive a hint of danger but ignore it and create the enabling environment required to nurture this crime. For example, if a man is able to convince you to a secluded place like the hotel or guest house, private residence or that of his friend, a place you are not familiar with, you need to know that he can forcibly assault you sexually.
For most men, hiding under the guise of religion or spirituality is a safe and easy approach. Still commenting on the case of Pastor Isaac Asante who was allegedly accused of raping a senior high school leaver, he gained consent of his victim under the alleged pretext of delivering her from a demonic attack and luring her into a hotel where she was allegedly sexually violated. Prayers and deliverance are performed in churches and prayer camps where people can witness the miraculous works of God. So the moment a pastor invites you to a one-on-one deliverance session at a hotel or any private place, you should be alert and extra careful.
Moreover, women especially must be mindful of what they drink as anointing oils for purification and cleansing from evil attacks. You will never realize what is being done to you until they are through with you.
You always require extra vigilance and alertness, especially during this Easter festivity where various criminal activities are mostly recorded. What you need to know is that rapists may not necessarily look like criminals, but are groomed and good at what they do; so be extra watchful. The following points may be considered to prevent and resist sexual attacks from your aggressor, in case of any.
If you have to go out during this festive season, dont go out in a company of people you less trust or know.
Avoid staying late and in secluded areas with people you may not trust. If you suspect any devious movement, be extremely rude and flee the scene. Avoid being the lady that you are in times like this.
If you have to drink alcohol, drink responsibly. Empty your glass before you decide to visit the washroom or avoid taking it on your return.
Keep your cell phone charged and with you always in order to call for help when the need arises.
Let someone know where you are going and where you are, at any point in time.
Always carry with you items like pepper spray and the like to be used to defend yourself in times of attack.
Never underestimate your abilities. In situations like this you will never know what you would be able to do with your strength and wit to defend yourself.
Be as aggressive as possible. Leave as many scratch marks, bruises, bites, on your attacker.
If a weapon is not pointed at you, scream for help if possible, to attract others.
Irrespective of the reasons assigned to why rape cases are not reported, rape and sexual assault are traumatic and emotional violence against women and must be pursued to any level through the legal system for justice. Reporting rapists is the safe bet in preventing others from becoming victims in the society.
For any information on crime and police assistance, call National Crimefighters Numbers 0302 773695, 0302 773906, MTN and Vodafone Toll-free 18555 191(Vodafone/Expresso/Airtel & TiGO).
Source: ASP Effia Tenge - [email protected]
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|