Madam Myra Michele Brown, a Regional Public Engagement Specialist at the United States Embassy in Ghana, gave the advice on the sidelines of a two-day workshop on “Sexual and Domestic Violence Prevention” in Accra for female students.
The programme, which formed part of activities marking the Women’s History Month, was to empower women and young girls to stand up against all forms of sexual and domestic violence.
The event attracted about 50 young girls from the basic and senior high schools in the Greater Accra Region.
Madam Brown said: “Victim blaming is something that happens globally and we’ve had experiences where we had to talk to the teachers because there were reports that some girls seduced the teachers, which is ridiculous.”
“How could a 15-year old girl have the power over a 50-year old man? We want to tell the young women that they are victims and there is a lot of push back to their world”, she added.
She underscored the need for children to be protected from sexual abuses and domestic violence, instead of being blamed.
Madam Brown said the programme was to empower young girls with relevant information that could build their self esteem and confidence so they will be able to defend themselves whenever their rights are trampled upon.
Mrs Sophia Ennim, the Superintendent of Police, in charge of the Madina District Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU), urged young girls who suffer sexual and domestic violence to immediately report the incident to the Police or the appropriate authorities for swift action.
“What we normally advise victims to do is that if possible don’t take your bath and if any hospital is closer to you, go there to be examined. Or better still if any police station is closer to you, go there and they will give you a form to go to the hospital or we’ll take you to the hospital by ourselves for examination,” she said.
“And then we’ll make sure the perpetrator is sent to court. If you are also going through any emotional abuse, we could refer you to a clinical psychologist or a counselor,” She added
She said the Criminal Offences Act and the Domestic Violent Act would ensure the perpetrators of such acts were brought to book.
Miss Stephany Adekyi, a student of Kwabenya Senior High School, said the seminar had empowered her to stand up for her rights and to know the appropriate authorities to report any sexual harassment to instead of keeping it to herself.
She, therefore, advised her colleagues who encounter similar challenges not to be intimidated but be bold to report the matter to the Police.
Miss Gloria Gidisu, a Student of Opportunity Industrialization Centre, said the workshop had enlightened her that societal and cultural inhibitions must not compel young girls to keep mute over sexual assault.
She, therefore, expressed the belief that frequent education and sensitization of young girls on their rights would enable them to come out freely to report perpetrators of sexual assault for the law to take its cause.
Miss Eugenia Aboshietobor, a Student at the La Wireless Junior High School, said the workshop has enabled her to build her self confidence and be able to say “no to sexual abuse”.
She cited an instance whereby an adult male tried to take advantage of her at home but gathered courage to report the person to her mother and the issue was reported to the Police.
The culprit was subsequently arrested and dealt with accordingly, she said.