Date: 31st March, 2011
Event: Apprehend a female thief and show her what’s what.
Thursday had me busy at work. I ignored the internet and there’s no radio in my office so I missed the debates. The evening saw me having the time of my life at the Labadi Beach Hotel with my family and I got home too late to bother with anything running the gossip rounds. Fast forward to Friday, April first and my shock at reading a tweet by Nii Ayertey about Amina and how she could have been his sister. I thought, “what’s going on now?” and followed the link to this CitiFm story. And then I prayed it was some sick April Fool’s Joke.
At about 3am on March 31st, some male students of Mensah Sarbah Hall of the University of Ghana through whatever means, decided “to catch a thief“. Unfortunately, there is NO correlation between these kids and the characters in the movie/book. No one is quite sure how they caught this girl or how they got a confession out of her. We do know though that instead of handing her over to the police, they chose to beat her up. The girl in the video clearly has a black eye and unless she did that to herself trying to escape (silly excuse really) I call these boys women beaters. I do not condone mob action and always insist on turning over suspects to the police and for good reason. You never quite know who the mob has apprehended, and you sure as heck don’t have anyone in a mob listening to reason.
I do not know at what point in time the boys chose to strip her naked. Parading her in the Hall, they did more than that. They tore her clothes off of her, exposing her bra and panties. Even those were not spared however, despite her pleas for mercy. Bottom line, they exposed her nether regions and proceeded to taunt her, while taking photos of her private parts and even going as far as to insert their fingers into her vajayjay.
University authorities are looking into this matter but I do not have any confidence in my Alma Mater. For years, students have been parading alleged thieves naked through the streets of campus (from Commonwealth Hall to the Main gate) in order to pond them. And the university has always turned a blind eye to the happenings on. Debates yesterday on facebook had people comparing what happened to this girl to the pondings that were delivered to the boys who stole in the past. Well let me say this, when you stole from Commonwealth or any Hall in the past, you had a choice. Either you went to the shrine at La or were handed over to University Authorities or you had an option of being marched naked through the streets of campus with the culmination of a “decent” bath in the filthy pond at the main gate.
Amina was not given any of those choices. These boys tore, (shredded, call it what you will ) her clothes from her body and then did something that has never before been done, even by those troublesome Vandals. They crossed that fine line that exists in mob mentality where the role of criminal and victim are turned around. See, once Amina was down on the floor clutching her tattered bra to her chest and begging the boys not to go any farther, she ceased to be a thief in my eyes. She became a sexual assault victim, pleading with her attackers to have mercy on her. She became a woman begging a gang of men not to violate her person.
I don’t know how many of you have ever been in such a situation before (I certainly hope you haven’t) but I doubt there is anything more damaging than having a gang of men or women (or even a single person) out to sexually molest you and you laying in a defenseless heap with nothing but your tears to protect you.
I’m still trying to reconcile what they did and simply cannot find a single rhyme or reason. Who in their right mind captures a thief in their home and then decides “Let’s see what they look like under those clothes”. Who in their right mind chooses to get their Johnses off when they find a burglar in their home. “Oh thanks for comming to rob me. I’d like to have the sex now” I do not think that I have ever been more ashamed to have been a student of the University of Ghana and I am glad now that I did not follow my father’s footsteps and join Sarbah Hall. He’s certainly upset about it.
I’m against sexual abuse of any person (be they male or female, child or adult) or animal and can only describe what I feel right now as empathy. I wept when I saw the video (couldn’t finish watching it) and wish now that I hadn’t been linked to it. If I cannot condone lynching a person for some crime, then how on earth can I condone sexually abusing them? I keep thinking what if this had been a case of mistaken identity? Just imagine for a second, for those of you who want to justify what happened to her, that these kids had made a mistake. What if they’d grabbed the wrong person and abused them in such a manner? What if your sister had been the one they’d grabbed in their frenzy? It shames me to have people I respect and admire tell me she deserved what she got and that this time she’ll learn her lesson. It shames me to hear people I expect to do something ask me if I knew this girl and demand to know “why are you being so emotional about this?”
No one cares!!! A clear case of human rights violation and no one cares!!! Someone had the guts to say on facebook that if it had been a man, we wouldn’t be making so much noise about it. He said to “get it right. It’s human rights not women’s rights” and I set him straight. We’ve been complaining for years about mob action. Been speaking out forever about the marches to the uni pond. Clearly that was championing human rights and that was when it was even only men being abused. I have never heard of a case when a male thief was being paraded naked in the streets and the girls went over to stroke his manhood. It’s plain disgusting to think of if you ask me.
The reason this person seems to think the world champions women’s rights is simply this. Women and Children have always been weaker and therefore more defenceless. Of course when you hear stories about human rights violation, they’re going to be about women being raped or molested and children being treated the same or worse. And men, when they are abused, shut up about it. Show me one case where a man was abused sexually and people threw a party for his attackers.
This guy made a case of “women rape men and women beat men”. PLEASE!!! It’s anatomically IMPOSSIBLE for a woman to rape a man unless she chooses to sodomise him and if you showed me such a case, I’d be first to condemn it. If it had been girls fingering Amina, I would still be talking about it. If it had been boys sodomising a man or woman, I would be talking about it. If it had been boys groping a male thief, I’d STILL be talking about it. SEXUAL ABUSE is wrong and any person that seeks to justify and rationalise it away and promotes it is a big fat filthy IDIOT and should experience it for themself.
I want to see Amina fight for her justice now. The state can do whatever they want concerning the theft but now the state HAS to round up the students responsible and deal with them. Amina deserves justice. She has become one of the many victims of sexual abuse and if it’s one thing that I know, Victims Never Forget. She didn’t ask for it. This is not her fault and instead of men and women applauding these depraved students for their actions, I would like for there to be a united voice, calling for Justice, calling for heads to roll. The university needs to be strict when they apprehend these students and the State should be well prepared to fight this to the end.
I also hope that we will find a way to talk to our students. We need to get it into people’s thick skulls, right from childhood, that sex is not a tool for punishment.
Another thing that worried me was the way in which the video went viral. I know some people meant well and wanted the world to see the depravity of man but did anyone think for a second that it would be adding more insult to this girl’s injury? I sat down to think and I wondered, would I be okay with it, if my rape was taped and spread over the internet? Would you be fine if your friend, sibling, mother was attacked and the video making its rounds to every cellphone and computer, not only in your country but going as far as to hit the internet, where the entire world can see? So I asked the person who uploaded the video to delete it. Did he? When I checked at 3pm yesterday, he hadn’t done that. Now, his facebook profile has been deleted. Thank God for facebook crawler bots and the report violation button 🙂
No matter how you look at it, there is no “justice” in what was done to Amina. This is a human being (forget her crime) who was sexually abused by a gang and she’s never going to get over it. I insist that we do not simply sweep this under a rug. I’ll keep talking about it and demand that we hear something tangible from the Ghanaian government and the University authorities. I demand that something be done to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. You can be sure that I’ll be writing more about this, that I’ll continue to make a nuisance of myself until someone in authority says something. And it had better not be along the lines of “It is not nice and especially when it involves students who are supposed to know better…” and then nothing is done. We have a judiciary and laws have been put in place to handle these things. Now I want to see these laws and their enforcers DO THEIR DAMN JOB!!
My heart goes out to Amina. No matter what her crime was, she definitely did not deserve such a punishment and I pray that true justice is served.