General News of Saturday, 22 July 2017
Neglected children are the most vulnerable to defilement, statistics from the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service has revealed.
According to DOVVSU, a total of 31,480 children have been abandoned and neglected by their parents and guardians in the last six years.
The National Coordinating Director of DOVVSU, Chief Superintendent Rev. Mrs Laurencia Wilhemina Akorli, disclosed this to The Mirror in an interview in Accra.
Correlation between non-maintenance and defilement
In 2011, a total of 5,797 children were abandoned and neglected by their parents, resulting in 1,168 defilement cases.
The number of non-maintenance cases increased to 6,158 in 2012, while 1,111 children were defiled by close family members.
The situation remained the same in 2013 where some 6,107 reported cases of child neglect resulted in 1,228 cases of defilement.
It, however, started declining gradually, though at a slow pace in 2014 where 5,079 non-maintenance cases were reported, with a corresponding 1,296 defilement cases.
The year 2015 saw a slight dip in the figure as 4,685 neglected cases were reported, with 1,179 being defiled.
A total of 3,654 children were neglected with a steady drop in the number of defilement cases to 720 in 2016.
Other domestic violence cases
Other domestic violence cases which have increased over the years include rape, sodomy, child trafficking, assault, kidnapping, child abuse, sexual abuse and indecent assault.
For instance, the Greater Accra Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Osabarima Oware Asare Pinkro II, announced recently that between 2012 and 2014, a total of 25,468 children were sexually abused with parents, teachers and neighbours perpetrating most of the cases.
The Greater Accra Region recorded the highest number of cases of 3,664, as the various DOVVSU offices nationwide accounted for the rest of the cases during the period under review.
According to a 2014 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) study, an estimated 120 million girls under the age of 20 have been subjected to forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) 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 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.
The Ark Foundation, Ghana, an advocacy-based human rights organisation, emphasises that 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.
Prey to perpetrators
Even though Rev. Mrs Akorli acknowledged that DOVVSU was doing its best by educating the public, especially young girls on how to run away from the perpetrators, the onus lay on parents to help bring the situation under control.
She emphasised that child protection should be of paramount concern to parents no matter the situation, noting that failure to do so would always expose the children to unscrupulous persons who might harm them.
“Parents must take good care of their children because the reports we have show clearly that these neglected children are usually exposed to incidences of defilement in various parts of the country.
“Even if parents divorce, the child should not suffer the consequences of the separation between the mother and father,” she said.
Rev. Mrs Akorli used the opportunity to appeal to the media to liaise with DOVVSU to report appropriately on domestic violence cases.