A total of 5,752 children were defiled in Ghana between 2010-2014 with 342 of the cases perpetrated by family members of the victims.
Statistics from the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, shows that 1,298 cases were reported in 2014 with only eight of the victims being males.
Out of this number, 91 cases were perpetrated by the victims’ own family members with 417 of the cases by people close to the victims while 790 cases by other people not close to the victims.
The report further showed that in 2013, a total number of 1,230 defilement cases were reported and 1,097 cases were recorded in 2012. Additionally, 1,159 defilement cases were reported in 2011 while 968 cases were reported in 2010.
According to the 2014 UNICEF study, an estimated 120 million girls under the age of 20 (about 1 in 10) have been subjected to forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point of their lives.
The World Health Organisation also estimates that at least 20 per cent of the world’s women have been physically or sexually abused by men.
A report by the Women’s World Summit Foundation, a global civic organisation, suggests that 95 per cent of the total number of defiled children stand high chances of becoming abusers in the future.
“Ninety-five per cent of prostitutes and 80 per cent of substance abusers were abused as children, 80 per cent of the children who run away from homes cite abuse-related reasons and 78 per cent of the total prison population in the world were abused as little children,” the group’s report further suggests.
According to the Ark Foundation, Ghana, an advocacy-based human rights organisation, a number of women refuse to press charges against perpetrators of defilement cases because of family issues, with many others refusing to report at all.
The Executive Director of the foundation, Mrs Angela Dwamena Aboagye, in an interview with The Mirror said that a lot of women and children suffer in silence and called on traditional authorities and family heads not to meddle in and shield perpetrators of abuse against women and children.
“Intimate partner violence is basically criminal. It is a violation of a person’s fundamental human rights and deeply affects their dignity and self-worth,” she added.
The Ark Foundation was established in 1995. It serves as a refuge centre for battered women and children referred from other agencies including DOVVSU, the Commission on Human Rights and the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA Ghana).
Beneficiaries of the shelter have included battered women, spousal abuse survivors, women fleeing from harmful traditional / religious practices such as early or forced marriage, survivors of sexual assault – rape, defilement and incest.
Presently, 206 abused women and children are housed by the foundation who are given various types of support including counselling services, legal assistance and vocational training.
According to Mrs Aboagye, a number of international support groups pulled out their support to the foundation when Ghana attained a middle income status because of their operational guidelines set out by the World Bank.
That situation, she noted, forced the foundation to lay off some of its social workers since the foundation could no longer meet the financial demands.