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Amend law to provide compensation for defiled victims — Judge

A judge has called for the amendment of Section 101 of the Criminal and Other Offences Act, 1969, Act 29 to provide for compensation for defiled victims.

The gender-based violence Circuit Court Judge in Kumasi, Gloria Mensah-Bonsu, said such an amendment would encourage more parents to report cases of defilement to the police rather than resolving them at home.

She said even though such cases were on the ascendancy in the country, not many of them were reported to the police, while those that were reported did not all go through prosecution.

Ms Mensah-Bonsu said if parents of victims knew the law would compensate their children for the trauma and stigma associated with such acts, they would be unwilling to bow to societal pressure to settle them out of the court.

Event

The judge was speaking at a two-day workshop organised by the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources for selected regional officers of environmental health, planning, social and community development to validate gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse, and sexual harassment prevention and response action plan for the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area sanitation and water resources project, in Kumasi.

The action plan was to ensure that people working on the project did not take advantage of the vulnerability of the beneficiary communities.

It also includes the provision of avenues for victims of gender-based violence, sexual abuse and exploitation to seek redress.

Threats

Ms Mensah-Bonsu further said that because most victims of sexual violence were from low-income areas, perpetrators often used threats of death and the withdrawal of certain support to compel victims and parents not to report to the police.

She said in cases where the victims reported the acts, and because of the stigma associated with sexual violence, coupled with the long processes involved in prosecution, some of their parents opted for out-of-court settlements to the detriment of the victims.

She said some families of sexual violence victims also treated the act as a commodity which could be used to make money without taking into consideration the effects of the crime on the victims.

Challenges  

Ms Mensah-Bonsu said the main challenge faced by the police in prosecuting defilement cases was the unwillingness of victims to pursue the cases.

Her point was corroborated by the former Ashanti Regional Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) Coordinator of the Police Service, Chief Superintendent Susanna Derry (retd).

She said in such cases, some of the victims failed to return police medical report forms issued to them because they were unable to pay for the cost of the medical examination.

Aside from that, Ms Mensah-Bonsu said due to the fear of perpetrators, victims failed to report early to the police to enable them to gather evidence that could secure conviction.

She said since the police relied on evidence to prosecute suspects, when the report was delayed it affected the prosecution of the cases.

Appeal

The Senior Programme Manager of the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, Charlotte Akwaah-Adjei Marfo, appealed to parents to teach their children the proper names of sexual organs, and also educate them on the need to report persons who touch their sexual organs inappropriately.

She said parents should let their children understand that every “man is a potential rapist” and as such, they should be careful around them in order not to fall prey to their acts and deceit.

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