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Stopping sexual abuse of young girls in schools in Ghana

Stopping sexual abuse of young girls in schools in Ghana

Anti-sexual abuse and women’s empowerment campaigns like #MeToo and #TimesUp have upended the conversation surrounding sexual violence and women’s issues worldwide. But in parts of West Africa, strong cultural and religious taboos have prevented some women from speaking out in support of these movements.

In Ghana, research that dates back to 2009 shows sexual abuse in schools accounts for more than half of all cases in the country. It also shows that teachers are among the highest perpetrators of sexual violence, particularly among young girls. The country’s education ministry is currently investigating a number of sexual abuse scandals in schools where head teachers are being investigated for serial abuse, harassment and sexual extortion.

A group called the Coalition Against Sexual Abuse (CASA) is calling for immediate action on the part of Ghanaian authorities to end this crisis of sexual abuse. In March 2018, CASA launched a year-long campaign called Stop Sex Abuse in Schools. The focus of the campaign is on raising awareness and advocating for policy on sexual abuse and harassment in schools.

The campaign has three stages. The first is raising awareness of the issue on all media platforms with the #TimesUpGH trend. The second stage is bringing together stakeholders including the teachers’ union, civil society and NGOs to discuss the coalition’s target lens of teachers perpetrating sexual violence. Finally, the last stage is enforcing and building upon existing policy in collaboration with the Ghana Education Service to end rampant sexual abuse in the country.

Esther Armah is a member of the coalition. Armah is also the director of EAA Media Productions, a columnist with the Business and Financial Times, a media and communications lecturer with Webster University and the host of a global radio show and podcast called The Spin.

She spoke to Maxine Betteridge-Moes, a volunteer with Farm Radio International, a Canadian NGO that partners with radio broadcasters across sub-Saharan Africa to fight poverty and food insecurity through radio programs. This interview is a part of a podcast episode on sexual violence in Ghana, produced by Maxine Betteridge-Moes for the Young Journalists’ Global Podcast Challenge, organized by Farm Radio International for the WUSC and CECI International Forum. The full episode will be available soon, and we hope to have it available for rabble podcast listeners.

Image: Ray Styles Studios. Used with permission.

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