Talking Politics and Policies: Should chiefs be involved in rape cases?

Story; Rahamatu-Lahi Zakaria || Editor in Chief || 

For the past couple of months, the number of rape and defilement cases in the country seems to be on the rise and it does not look like we are going to win the fight to completely end the horrific act against women and girls.

Over the weekends, on Talking Politics and Policies in the studios of Sanatu Zambang, the topic tabled for discussion was how decision-makers in our communities can finally end rape and defilement in the country and give women and girls the joy of having peace at all times in every place they find themselves.

The discussants were Hairiya Bala Napps, gender activist, and Yakubu Mariam Alelemoma a youth activist and Teacher. Rahamatu-Lahi Zakaria hosted the discussion. Among the issues raised was if chiefs should be given the nod to get in involved in solving rape and defilement cases in our communities.

The discussants in their submission did not agree with our chief’s involvement in solving rape and defilement cases. According to them, justice will not be served since they will always look at protecting the face of the family and the community rather than giving justice to the victim.

Ms. Mariam had this to say if we should send all rape cases to the chief palace.

“when it gets to the chief palace they will say, let’s solve it the family way and this does not deal with the issues and mostly the culprit might repeat it because the person was left unpunished”

Yakubu Mariam Alelemoma

Mrs. Hairiya Bala Napps also added why she thinks chiefs should not be involved in rapes cases Another point was victim shaming.

Most times, when there is a rape case, the public starts asking what the woman/girl was wearing, where she was going, etc. People start to question the character of the victim instead of sympathizing with her.

“Rape and defilement are criminal cases that the law has to handle. So you ask yourself the chief who is handling the case, what is his knowledge about the law. The thing is, yes he might likely ask the culprit to compensate the gods and community with money, sheep, cattle goat, but ask yourself after all this is done what happens to the victim”.

Mrs. Hairiya Bala Napps

But with the rise of gender activism in the country people are starting to talk against the victim shaming. Mrs. Hairiya even suggested counseling for rape victims to help them heal and move on with their lives.

She also cautioned people who are handling rape and defilement cases to be discrete about the victims they are working with. Naming them she said, will demoralize them and not encourage other victims to come forward with their stories. Though the panelists agreed on naming and shaming culprits, they were not sure if Ghana was ready to have our own version of the #metoo movement.

This they related to how systems in the country work and the victims might even be shamed more for coming out to call out their rapist. The most important thing to our guests in the studio was justice at the end of every case.

According to our activists, one of the fulfilling things is to get justice for every rape victim. Sometimes justice is denied because they do not want to shame the family and the victim’s family is pressured into withdrawing the case. This makes getting justice very difficult and the culprit goes unpunished.

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