By Joseph Kobla Wemakor
She could have fallen easily into the trap of her own uncle who attempted raping her during her visit to his house to assist with some household chores the last time.
It is very pathetic of someone in whom her confidence is reposed as a guide and a role model. Someone who is supposed to be a pillar of support through her early stages of development into an adulthood. Regrettably, someone she hardly believes could behave in such an unjustly manner, the way he treated her.
Who could have fathomed how a naive and young girl like Cynthia Adu (not her real name), 17, could outwit and extricate herself from a well-calculated trap of a ‘sexual predator’ in the name of her mother’s kid brother or an uncle?. Impossible indeed huh.!
The thought of rape in mind could mean a whole lot for her. It means she could either contract one or more of those deadliest sexually transmitted diseases, get pregnant as a teenager or get exposed to so many dangers that comes with rape which of course teenage pregnancy can be cited as one. Perhaps, she may have to also drop out of school just like her two elderly sisters did.
Currently her big sister is battling with life after going through similar situation. At a tender age of 17, she got impregnated by a young man in her neighborhood, dropped out of school as a result to deliver a baby and unfortunately couldn’t make it back. Currently, herself together with her 2 kids have become a burden on her poor parents.
Following that, her other elder sister whom she followed directly in line of birth equally suffer the same fate leading to her dropping out of school prematurely. But her story was somehow different; since she was lucky to get reinstated after delivery and now joins her in JHS 3.
Had it not been that, she would have completed JHS 3 long ago and move on to further her education at the Senior High School(SHS).
However, Cynthia believes overcoming such a grand scheme by her uncle is not by her power or might, but by divine intervention in other words by the ‘grace of God, almighty’ which is made possible through the information support she had received in the past from her ‘Religious and Moral Lessons’ tutor.
“I went to his house on one fateful Saturday morning, somewhere last year (2018) just to assist him with some chores as usual. He was sitting in his room and asked me to enter and I obeyed”.
“Then he started showing some attitude towards me. By the grace of God, I knew what he wanted do so I became alert. He went and lock the door behind me so I asked him why, but he said nothing”.
“Then all of a sudden he started touching my private part, fondling my breasts and went ahead to caress me. At this point, it dawned on me this man is about to ‘commit an abominable act towards me’ therefore I asked him to open the door for me so I can leave but he refused.
So I shouted, ‘no, please open the door, I want to leave now’, then all of a sudden he felt ashamed and went to open the door for me and I skipped out”.
Cynthia, is a fine looking young lady, an average height, fair in complexion with a blue prominent eyes. She is currently a JHS 3 student of Anlo-Afiadenyigba Roman Catholic(R.C.) Junior High School(JHS).
She was born into a family of seven (7), five (5) girls, a mother and a father. She is a twin by birth and the third born of her parents.
Together with her twin sister, they follow 2 other girls whom they will call their elderly sisters before their last born who is also a lady(kid sister).
Despite her predicament, anyone would have thought that Cynthia will gather courage to confide in her parents about his uncle’s misdemeanor so he can be call to order, but she declined instead.
The issue is, who knows her uncle’s next line of action.? What if he decides to strike again after his first attempt has hit a snag.?
When confronted by the Executive Director of Human Reporters Ghana, Mr. Joseph Kobla Wemakor as to what informed her deafening silence on the matter, she responded: “The reason why I didn’t tell my mother is because by the grace of God, I managed to escape the rape attempt, but assuming he succeeded raping me, I would have no choice than to report him”.
Cynthia feared for her life knowing there’s a looming danger ahead. He fear is that it is likely her brother might strike again and maybe he might end up overcoming her.
When asked what was the information she received from her teacher that saved her life, she revealed, “At the time I was in my uncle’s room before he will try that on me that, he first locked me up, stepped out to go and buy a drink. Then I had a nudge, all of a sudden, what my teacher thought us came into my mind. ‘How to escape when a man wants to rape you or beware of Jonadab and Amnon, a story you’ll find in the Bible; the book of 2 Samuel, chapter 13 verse 1-38. So immediately when the message came to me, I just had an inner invigoration, then I stood up and said I’m going”, that was what made me yell at him before he was compelled to let me out”.
Surviving and evading rape is a traumatic experience that impacts its victims in a physical, psychological, and social way. Even though the effects and the aftermath of rape differentiates among survivors, individuals tend to suffer from similar issues found within these three categories. Long term reactions may involve the development of coping mechanisms that will either benefit the survivor, such as social support, or inhibit recovery.
The case of Cynthia can be likened to the above explanation since she falls within the same bracket.
Although she managed to escape being raped, her situation demands that she enjoys the needed social support, care and attention looking at the trauma she had to battle with for the rest of her life.
Currently, she is living in fear of imminent danger anytime the thought of her uncle’s bad attitude towards her came to her mind.
“Ever since that incident, I’ve never been to his house, sometimes when we on the way, I observed that he never tolerates me the way he used to do before”, Cynthia remarked.
Many girls today are living in worst situations more than what Cynthia went through, particularly in the villages and rural communities. Their stories have gone unreported simply because they aren’t told for fear of mistrust, stigmatization or victimization.
Around the world, rape and sexual abuse are everyday violent occurrences – affecting close to a billion women and girls over their lifetimes. However, despite the pervasiveness of these crimes, laws are insufficient, inconsistent and, sometimes, promote violence.
On his part, Cynthia’s Moral and Religious Studies teacher, Jones Obiri Mawusi, (the man who always inspire Cynthia and his colleagues with Bible stories and more) bemoans the issue of rape, teenage pregnancy and abortion, adding, it had characterized the school at an alarming rate which has become a cause for worry.
He alluded to the fact that Cynthia actually escaped the rape attempt from her uncle and did confided only in him due to trust.
Jones who call himself a devoted Christian said, he believes using the Bible stories like that of Ammon and Tamar to educate the students helps in molding them as well as to refrain from immoral acts thereby ensuring they desist from engaging in pre-marital sex, abortion and to curb teenage pregnancy.
The full story of Amnon and Tamar which inspired Cynthia to action was captured in the 2 book of Samuel, Chapter 13 verse 1 to 38. The story highlighted gross display of immorality between the son of King David in the Bible called Amnon who fell in love with his half-sister, beautiful Tamar, ended up raping her by luring her to bed on the pretext that he was sick and demanded her sister to visit and prepare him a meal in his bedroom. His life was later taken by Absalom, the brother of Tamar by vengeance for defiling and breaking the heart of her sweet sister, Tamar.
According to Mr. Jones Mawusi, such a story was what captivates and motivates Cynthia to act in time of trouble when confronted by her uncle.
“That story really saved Cynthia from getting raped by her own uncle”, he stressed.
“She came to thank me for the support, explaining how she managed to escape and said, “It was just like how you click a mouse on a computer and a page opens and that message came to me. I remembered you were teaching us about the tale of Jonadab, Amnon and Tamar, the beautiful daughter of Kind David in the Bible”, that was how I escaped the rape, Jones narrated.
Giving an account about Cynthia and her two sisters on campus, he disclosed that he was once approached by their father for help, to keep advising his daughters for better since he doesn’t really seemed to understand what is wrong them that they keep are getting pregnated prematurely and while in JHS 2.
So who is responsible for denigrating the womanhood of his lovely daughters? Could it be the ‘bad uncle’ in disguise?
Anlo-Afiadenyigba is a town situated in the Keta Municipality of the Volta Region of Ghana. It is noted to be one of the towns in the region which has produced many school drop outs especially girls who have fallen victims to teenage pregnancy, abortion and rape.
Surprisingly, out of the alarming rate of teenage pregnancy in the country, Volta Region is said to have recorded the high incidence.
An publication dated July 14, 2018 by Graphic Online titled ‘Volta Region tops teenage pregnancy list’ indicated that the Ghana Demographic and Health survey(GDHS) of 2014 pointed out that about 4.1 percent of teenagers in the region were pregnant with their first child and 18 per cent of teenagers had already had a live birth.
It also suggested that child marriage in the Volta Region was recorded at 7.8 percent and it is second to the Western Region which is 8.3 percent.
So if the Volta Region is cited as being on top of the list in this regard, which municipality or school is leading the region when the issue of teenage pregnancy is mentioned?
According to the statistics available, about eleven (11) girls at Anlo-Afiadenyigba Basic School & JHS got pregnant at the end of 2015/2016 academic year.
For what reason(s) and why this sad development? It is no surprise that the school was leading in teenage pregnancy and rise in abortion cases within the entire Basic School in the Keta Municipality.
We’ll if the above statistics is true and anything to go by, we can come to conclusion, that the story of Cynthia and her 2 sisters is authentic since it corroborates the problem at hand.
“The alarming rate of teenage pregnancy in this school is really a major issue of concern”, Jones Mawusi laments
Condemning the situation in no uncertain terms, he described the situation as ‘devastating to the integrity and image of the noble school’.
In an attempt to address the canker of teenage pregnancy, rape and abortion that has characterized the school, he saw the need to establish the ‘Girls Club’ through the support of the school head, Mr. Topha-Mills Moses. It was inaugurated on Friday March 18, 2016 to assist girls with needed education to develop their God-given talents, gifts and potentials.
Some of its aims and objectives include, to help educate girls about the dangers associated with teenage pregnancy and abortion and how to avoid it, empowering girls, assisting them to be abreast of their fundamental human rights and also create awareness against all kinds of domestic violence and sexual abuses.
It also seeks to help inculcate in girls the virtue and true sense of feminism so as to guard against and overcome all sort of inferiority complex and gender inequality.
Through the support of this club, within a period of three years, many successes have been chalked ranging from holding panel discussions, drama on effect of pre-marital sex, choreography, poetry recitation on teenage pregnancy, rape and so on. The highest achievement for that matter the major event in the history of the club was when it successfully organized an excursion to the Kotoka International Airport in Accra which saw majority of students partake in the exercise which brought a lot of impact and exposure in their lives. It was indeed the first time in the history of the school the student has such an encounter to embark on excursion out of town.
Despite all the above experiences, the club is faced with numerous challenges, according to its founder, a teacher, youth activist and Pastor, Mr. Jones Obiri Mawusi.
Out of the challenges he enumerated include, financial constraints, inadequate time allocation for club meetings, poor patronage of the Girls Club by teachers, lack of appropriate meeting place and lack of self-control on part of the girls in giving themselves to men.
According to him, the biggest of all their challenges boils down to lack of financial support which is hampering the progress of the club since it really depends on such support to be able to roll out its programs such as drama, panel discussion, poem among others to educate the students on the effects of pre-marital sex, teenage pregnancy, abortion, rape, misconception of womanhood (panel discussion) among others.
He therefore appealed to all well-meaning persons, government, corporate organizations and institutions, NGOs and CSOs in the country and beyond to come to the aid of the school and support the Girls Club to achieve its objectives of ensuring that the girls enjoy their freedom and fundamental human rights in full without any form of abuse or discrimination in the society.
The writer is a staunch human rights activists and the Executive Director of Human Rights Reporters Ghana(HRRG)