The girl who owns her body

By Samuel Osei-Frempong

For most girls at a local Junior High School in Kuntunse, a community in the Ga West Municipality of the Greater Accra Region, the narrow path on which they tread to school every day could be dangerous and unforgiving.

As the sun scorches and bakes it in the dry season, snakes and scorpions which occasionally inflict pain on their bare feet, hide among the bushy shoulders and when the rains come, pools of water, the remnants of flash floods, rest on the muddy surface on which they slip, slide and drift into the mire.

But all these misfortunes associated with accessing education in Ghanaian poor communities are the least of their problems as a bigger danger lurks on the school compound-the head teacher, who is a sex predator.

His persistent harassment and intimidation for sex leads to truancy among some of the female students and naturally some out of fear, gives in to his insatiable demands with the associated pain, anguish and sorrow.

In a community where sex is hardly discussed at home, such victims of sex abuse keep to themselves and sometimes believe that as females growing up, such acts are part of the initiation rites into womanhood.

But in the midst of wanton plunder of young virgins, a girl stood up and decided not to give in to the demands of the predator.

According to Akua (not her real name), a lot of hurdles were placed on her way but still refused to give in because of her courage and conviction that her body was hers and that she had rights which included Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights

She is a member of the Young Urban Women Project which has in its folds one thousand members drawn from Kpobiman and surrounding towns, all in the Ga West Municipality of the Greater Accra Region.

Action Aid Ghana is partnering the Ark foundation, Ghana to implement the project which is sponsored by the Norwegian Development Agency.

The two and a half year project seeks to mobilise and empower 2000 young women from 15-25 years in poor urban and peri-urban areas in Ghana.

It is formulated on four thematic areas which are; Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Decent Work and Livelihood Choices, Violence against Women and Unpaid Care Work (household chores).

Mrs Leticia Achiaa Boakye, a local opinion leader and the Akua’s parents helped her to launch one of the most effective anti-sex abuse campaigns in the community which resulted in the punishment and the eventual removal of the Head teacher.

Scores of girls, who have been abused, this time round, had the courage to confide in their peer, telling her of their ordeal and the loss of their sense of self worth.

Akua looks back with mixed feelings at the turn of events and with tears drifting down her brown cheeks, chocking, she managed to say: “I hope other girls could do the same.”
She smiled after wiping the tears with her palms revealing a set of white teeth which gleamed in the beams of the morning sun.

She said she could not talk again, stood up and straightened the crinkled part of her long skirt and set off, carefully navigating a wide path desecrated by gullies and patches of grass.

She carried her slender body across the main Accra-Kumasi highway held hostage by over speeding vehicles with no difficulty. When she got to the other side, she turned to wave perhaps to celebrate her new triumph.

Akua knows that her path to womanhood would certainly not be fraught with the kind of dangers most females tread in poor communities in Ghana, which include lack of knowledge of their rights, lack of knowledge on contraceptives, unwanted pregnancies, illegal abortions and sexually transmitted infections.

Sex is a forbidden word in most homes in Ghana hence most girls get educated on the subject outside the home.

Sex education under such circumstances, is often paid for in kind and it is usually experimental and rudimentary.

Some escape the wounds of unprotected and unprepared sex but many get trapped in its maze, defining their mentality, altitude and even destiny. GNA

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