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Opinions Sat, 20 Jul 2013

Sex, street violence & corruption in ghana

T O F I A K W A: sex, street violence & corruption in Ghana – CRIME DATA (PART 1 OF 5)

Compatriots,

INTRODUCTION

This is the first of five essays serialised on my blog (brakofi.blogspot.com). They were originally titled (T O F I A K W A: SEX CRIMES, STREET VIOLENCE & CORRUPTION IN GHANAIAN SOCIETY (1 OF 5): CRIME STATISTICS). I share them with you because of the recent cloud of corruptions that hangs perilously over Ghana’s head. I hope something positive in them will rob off onto our national discourse.

The essays have arisen from the smoulder of increased sexual rape, street violence and general corruption outrages in Ghana. The marked increases in the raping of children and women are happening mostly in educational institutions. Corollary to these rapes are increases in extra-judicial street beatings and killings, against citizens who are alleged to have committed criminal offences. Far troubling, the above outrages are happening in an environment of burgeoning corruption at both official and domestic levels.

TOFIAKWA simply means taboo. The increase in sex crimes, street violence and corruption in Ghanaian society is at taboo levels. These social and cultural terrors are not only denuding public moral, they are subverting Ghana's development by accretion (step-by-step). Ghana ignores these outrages at its peril.

The social and cultural terrors are depressing. Ghana is presently experiencing perhaps the most vicious no-holds-barred history of violence it has ever experienced. Worse, the murky waters of this aggregate violence are clearing to alarmingly reveal that some appendages of moral, ethical and judicial authority are putrefying with gangrene. Bluntly, some politicians, pastors, police chiefs, judges and other leaders of important state and private institutions have become corrupt.

We must now ask: is the increase in violence among young males in Ghana a reflection of a more serious social and cultural rot? Is Ghana in real big trouble? The evidence, as would be shown, is overwhelming. Ghana is experiencing perhaps the most vicious, no-holds-barred, social, moral and judicial violence it has ever experienced in its fifty seven years history.

I will try to write simply. Relevant theoretical concepts and difficult words will be explained and appropriately referenced. Please forgive me if I am unable to do so sometimes. I attempt here to share with you a subject matter that has defied public debate for years. Therefore, it is impossible to always find the most accessible words to express my meaning to your full satisfaction. I attempt to sincerely and patriotically contribute ideas to help Ghana navigate its crisis-challenged ship of social peace from keeling over.

The essays are serialized in five parts, often with sub-divisions: 1) Evaluation of statistical data on crime in Ghana/Africa. 2) Evaluation of textually close-read news reports of street and sexual violence in the Ghanaian media - focusing on paedophilia and the impact of increased homosexuality on sexual violence and health. 3) Analysis of news reports of the assault and raping of Amina Haruna at the University of Ghana, Legon. 4) Critical discourse of the repeat raping of the eponymous MZbel. This is the core or lynchpin of the essays. It will provide the basic for engaging the multiplicity of issues that are interconnected with it. 5) Evaluation of general corruption in Ghanaian society.

SOCIAL, CULTURAL & ECONOMIC PARADOXES

Sexual and street violence throw up some troubling paradoxes. Sexual violence: educational institutions are where moral, ethical and intellectual knowledge and life's skills are taught to develop minds, yet there has been a marked rise in recent sexual attacks against under-aged and adult females, at both secondary school and university level. Street crime and mob violence: Ghana has a relatively capable, professional police force and judiciary compared to other African countries. Yet street violence proliferates. General corruption: Ghana has an excellent judicial and moral/ethical institutions (courts, churches, policy bureaucracies, businesses, educational and civil rights institutions) yet general levels of corruption has engulfed these same institutions.

The Ghanaian people are poor, yet Ghana is rich. Ghana/Africa abounds in both industrial and tropical rain forest natural resources and export commodities (gold, diamond, bauxite, manganese, oil and other bio-carbon products) yet these are controlled (freehold) by western Transnational Corporations (TNCs) from the very same Western countries who once colonised us. Ghana has a formidable class of very well educated people, yet millions of Ghanaians suffer abject poverty while the educated elite despair trying or squabble about national politics in the media.

DATA ON THE RISE IN CRIME IN GHANA

Stating boldly that there is a rise in crime levels in Ghana requires factual evidence of crime statistics. As recently as 15th July, Graphiconline reported that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Mohammed Alhassan, and his Director of Motor Traffic and Transport Department, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr Angwubutoge Awuni, warned police officers of severe sanctions if implicated any act of corruption. They were concerned rampant corruption was sullying the reputation of the police services:

‘The move by the police to clean their ranks of corrupt elements is seen by observers as an apparent reaction to the survey of 2,000 people in Ghana last week that suggested that the police and political parties were the most corrupt institutions in the country. The survey, conducted by Transparency International for its Global Corruption Barometer for 2013, suggested that in Ghana, 54 per cent of the 2,000 respondents reported that corruption had increased in the past two years, while 20 per cent reported that corruption had decreased…’

“A statement issued in Accra by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the local chapter of Transparency International, on the 2013 corruption barometer report said: “More than one person in two, thinks corruption has worsened in the last two years although survey participants also firmly believe that they can make a difference in the fight against corruption and have the will to take action against graft.” (War on corruption in police, Axe Falls on MTTU, By Sebastian Syme, Daily GraphicDaily, Graphiconline, http://graphic.com.gh/General-News/war-on-corruption-in-police-axe-falls-on-mttu.html).

Again, a government committee set up to investigate alleged corruption and irregularities at, Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), found such grievously high levels of ‘systematic corruption and questionable contracts’, that a member of the committee commented: “The rot in GYEEDA is so much that if we were given a whole year to do this investigation, we would find something new every day.” (GYEEDA C’ttee Uncovers Rot; Gov’t officials Likely to Face Prosecution, Joy News, July 15, 2013, http://edition.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201307/109458.php).

As far back as 1998, there were frightening incidents of “serial murders" of women in Accra: "In late 1998, a series of "mysterious" murders of women began to occur in the Mataheko area of Accra. Three of the 20 murders reportedly involved husbands' suspicion of their wives' infidelity. The men subsequently were arrested, but they were not convicted. There were more than 30 murders between 1993 and 2000, which were referred to as "serial murders." Police instituted evening roadblocks throughout Accra in an attempt to catch the murderers" (http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/rwinslow/africa/ghana.html).

Between 1998 and 2011 there were seismic increases in all levels of crime. Quoting statistics from the Ghana Police (1997) United for Justice-Ghana, UfJ-GH (a Facebook-based anti sexual violence pressure group) and Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), stated that more than a thousand incidents were recorded as "mob justice" (attack and murder of alleged criminals). A massive 66.7% of the suspected thieves in mob attacks were not the real thieves! (Reported Samven’s research, 2009).

In, ‘Trends in Crime’, Rohan.SDSU provides dated statistics on Ghana crime (1996-2000): Between 1996 and 2000 according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder increased from 2.23 to 2.48, an increase of 11.2%. The rate for rape increased from 4.04 to 6.85, an increase of 69.6%. The rate of robbery increased from 1.12 to 2.15, an increase of 92%. The rate for aggravated assault increased from 404.51 to 448.42 per 100,000, an increase of 10.9%. The rate for burglary decreased from 4.42 to 1.3, a decrease of 70.6%. The rate of larceny increased was not reported in 1996, and the rate of motor vehicle theft was not reported in either 1996 or 2000. The rate of total index offences increased from 416.32 to 461.28, an increase of 10.8%. (http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/rwinslow/africa/ghana.html ).

Nation Master informs us Ghana placed 66th out of 159 nations in the world in crime data. It had 10,992 prisoners. Of course, the US led the table with 2,019,234 prisoners (disproportionately criminalised young African males). South Africa topped Africa (8th) with 181,944 prisoners; followed by Rwanda (11) with 112,000 prisoners; Egypt (21) 61,845 prisoners; Nigeria (36) 40,447 prisoners; Kenya (40) 35,278 prisoners; Algeria (41) 34,243 prisoners; Tunisia (45) 23,165 prisoners; Madagascar (47) 20,109 prisoners; Cameroon (48) 20,000 prisoners; Zambia (61) 13,173 prisoners; Ghana (66) 10,992 prisoners.(http://www.nationmaster.com/red/pie/cri_pri-crime-prisoners).

The statistics for ‘Prisoners Per Capita’ shows Ghana had 52 per 100,000 people in jail (130th of 164) in the world. Ghanaian women were 2% represented in jail per 100,000 of population (110th of 134) in the world. Ghana has more prisoners than: Panama, Bulgaria, Greece, Belgium, Bolivia, Guatemala, Austria, Slovakia, Lebanon, Sweden and even feared Jamaica (100) 4,744 prisoners! (http://www.nationmaster.com/country/lg-latvia/cri-crime As prisoner numbers accurately correspond levels of crimes, judging by the comments of both Kenneth Kuranchie and Steven Atubiga after their recent release from jail (July 2013), Ghanaian prisons are at bursting levels (Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Searchlight Newspaper, Ken Kuranchie and a member of the NDC communication Team, Steven Atubiga were jailed by the Supreme Court for contempt of the Ghana Supreme Court over the slow-paced Election Petition deliberations).

WOMEN & CHILDREN ARE VULNERABLE

Women and children fare worse in domestic violence in Ghana. This 1998 figure was given by, Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) and the Finish NGO, FIDA (Latin: faithful and reliable). It states that 54% of low income women had been assaulted:

"A 1998 study revealed that particularly in low-income, high-density sections of greater Accra, at least 54 percent of women have been assaulted in recent years. A total of 95 percent of the victims of domestic violence are women, according to data gathered by the FIDA. These abuses usually go unreported and seldom come before the courts. The media increasingly report cases of assault and rape. The police administration's...Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) handles cases involving domestic violence, child abuse, and juvenile offenses. Located in Accra and Kumasi, the WAJU works closely with the Department of Social Welfare, FIDA, and the Legal Aid Board. During the year, the Accra Branch of this unit recorded 658 cases, including 204 defilement cases, 58 rapes, 5 cases of incest, 28 indecent assaults, 232 instances of assault and wife battery, and abductions". (http://www.nationmaster.com/country/lg-latvia/cri-crime).

QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS OF CORRUPTION

By ‘qualitative’, I mean descriptions or distinctions based on the quality or characteristic of media reports of corruption crimes, rather than measurable statistical data as shown above.

Rohan (SDSU.EDU) states the security forces (police, security officers and army) caused increases in the number of illegal deaths from 5-7 in every thousand people (between 2000-2001). Corruption, brutality and negligence are rife in Ghana. Public confidence in the police remains low. Mobs attacked several police stations due to perceived police inaction: delays in prosecuting suspects and rumours of their collaboration with criminals. These provoked mobs to exact instant justice on suspects. The Ghana Governance and Corruption Survey (2001) found that the police were among the "least trusted, least effective, and most corrupt" government institutions in the country. (http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/rwinslow/africa/ghana.html).

There is a groundswell of opinion that the courts are not much better than the police. There are unexplained delays and legalese bamboozlement in prosecuting suspects, compounding a four-pronged perception of police-court-criminal-politician duplicity. This perception was affirmed when in 2007 cocaine ceased by the police from drug smugglers suddenly disappeared into thin air under police watch and public gaze. After only a year in jail the defendants were acquitted:

"The Court of Appeal (CA) on Friday acquitted and discharged Kwabena Amaning aka Tagor and Alhaji Issah Abass, both businessmen, who were jailed 15 years each on drug related offenses. On November 28, 2007, the Fast Track High Court (FTHC) presided over by Mr. Justice Victor Jones Dotse, now a Supreme Court judge, found them guilty for conspiracy, engaging in prohibited business relating to narcotic drugs...CA described the judgement as a cancerous tumour that should be flushed and erased from the legal system. It noted that the trial judge erred when he overruled a submission of no case and called on the appellants (Tagor and Abass) to open their defence. The CA questioned why the prosecution failed to call Mr Kofi Boakye, Assistant Commissioner of Police, as a witness in the case. It said the prosecution failed to lead evidence to establish the whereabouts of the said 76 parcels of cocaine on board the MV Benjamin Vessel". (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=165888).

IS THE GHANA SUPREME COURT CORRUPT?

The legislative arm of state regarding crime, punishment and justice has been in disrepute for some time in Ghana. In May 2011 the, Judges and Magistrates' Association (JMA), an association of all judges and magistrates in Ghana, blacklisted four lawyers for criticising the judiciary and judges for corruption. The JMA reported the conduct of the four lawyers: Raymond Atuguba, David Annan, Abraham Amaliba and Larry Bimi to the General Legal Council, “…demanding that they provide proof of the accusations or the courts would not entertain their presence should they appear as counsel in any case. Last Thursday, May 19, the Supreme Court carried out the threat, refusing to hear a constitutional case when Raymond Atuguba appeared as counsel”. (Ghanaweb, General News of 26-05-2011).

But a lot has changed since 2011. It will seem the Supreme Court has managed to rediscover its self-confidence to act appropriately. Most Ghanaians have welcomed the recent decision of nine Supreme Court judges who preside on the NPP versus NDC Election Petition case, to jail Mr Steven Atubiga (a member of the communication team of the ruling National Democratic Congress {NDC} and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Searchlight Newspaper, Ken Kuranchie) to three and ten days respectively ‘for criminal contempt’ (Supreme Court Jails Atubiga And Ken Kuranchie, Rebecca Addo-Tetteh, Peacefmonline.com, 02-Jul-2013).

Thankfully, the whip has finally been cracked on the prevalence - mostly by politicians and their paid journalists - of raucous libelous and slanderous misrepresentations in our media. The net for appropriate national behavior would seem to be cast wide to include our politicians, bureaucracy, judiciary, media personnel, teachers/lecturers, economists, doctors, etc - full gamut of the leaders and the led!

CONCLUSION

It can be seen from the above statistical data that crime has risen steadily from 1996 to date. As low as these levels of crime denotes, Ghana still outstrips most African and some major European countries in high crime. One has to be careful where one answers mobile phone calls. On my last visit I was attacked by three machete-wielding robbers. They snatched my rucksack with my passport and other important documents. It can be argued from the above data that, given that Nigeria has over 134 million people against Ghana's 25 million people (approximately) Ghana may have more prisoners than Nigeria.

In Ghanaian communities some residents have been compelled to form vigilante crime-watch groups. They are usually armed to the teeth with sticks, machetes, iron bars and even guns. Usually the logistically-outstretched police tacitly approved these groups. It is in the light of the aggregate enormity of violent street and sexual crimes and general corruption that, Director of Motor Traffic and Transport Department, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr Angwubutoge Awuni’s warning to punish corrupt police officers, will find resonance with Ghanaians.

Lastly, the Opinion Poll release by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII)/Transparency International, while troubling, confirms and concludes this segment of my essay.

Columnist: Kofi of Africa