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Tag: Mental health

Otiko Djaba, Rape is not an STD.

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Dear Otiko Djaba,

Rape is NOT an STD. We Cannot Prevent Rape by Covering our bodies!

It is not often that I take the time to write to persons in positions of authority, as for the most part, I believe that authorities know what they are doing and do not need my input. However, on the odd occasion, I have been known to speak up. Ms Zita Okaikoi heard from me regarding her inaction, during her tenure as Ambassador to the Czech Republic, when a Ghanaian male was treated like “garbage” in that country.

Your predecessor, the Honourable Oye Lithur also heard from me, though I did not share my strong words for her here but kept to facebook, when she chose to sign the petition for the release of the Montie 3. Today, my attention is on you, and only you.

When you spoke up for yourself during your vetting and stood your ground when compelled to apologise to former President Mahama, I applauded from my home. I posted on social media about how it was high time we had a headstrong woman in the role of gender minister, who would not kowtow to the whimsy of our patriarchal society.

Imagine my joy when you turned up for your swearing-in looking radiant in your traditional garb and with your “interesting hairstyle” and hit back at your detractors when they accused you of setting a poor example for girls. Your defense for your hairstyle warmed my heart. Surely you would defend human rights as you defended your hair, no? Soon after, however, the bombs began to drop.

When videos began to circulate, in which a suspected female thief was sexually abused by a group of traders, you took days to speak regarding the issue, and even then, only to say that the police must be allowed to follow due process, and that the lady in question did not want to be found. My jaw dropped. With actual evidence in hand, the State wanted the victim to press charges before locking up those men? Even if she was proven to be a thief, did she deserve to be treated in such a manner?

The whole thing reminded me of an incident in Legon Uni where another alleged thief was stripped naked and manhandled by the males in one of the Mensah Sarbah Hall Annexes. Video footage circulated from this incident as well and some rather vile minded persons implied that she got what she deserved. I wonder why it took so long for action to be taken in the February 2017 event, when there was video evidence clearly showing the faces of her attackers.

You disappointed me, Otiko. You disappointed me so much but I had hope. I, and other women I hold dear to my heart, hoped you would “show us levels” but alas, just as Maya Angelou said, when someone shows you their character, believe them the first time.

I have actually left my sick bed to write to you tonight. I am supposed to be on bed rest while my back heals up but noooo, I needed to sit upright and take the time to let you know how disappointed I am, that you, a Minister for Gender should stand before a group of adolescent girls and declare that they should avoid wearing short skirts in order to prevent rape.

Can we stop devaluing men and their ability to think? Their brains are not actually stored in their penises.

I must thank you for warning male teachers not to coerce and abuse their charges. Warning them to desist from impregnating the girls, was a step in the right direction considering the society we live in but sadly, even this one good deed of yours stood on rocky ground. It gives the impression that the only thing wrong with male teachers sleeping with students, is the possibility of pregnancy.

You were absolutely right, in that it is an abuse of their rights but I put to you that pregnancy should be the least of their worries, but rather the emotional and physical trauma they inflict on their victims. Focusing on the risk of pregnancy ignores the fact that STDs could be transmitted and that female teachers could also be taking advantage of their charges, be they male or female students.

You mentioned something else that caught my attention, “We want to initiate a mentoring program; a girls-girls leadership program in all the schools, from basic to tertiary and as well as within the communities to ensure that we know our rights and we understand what it is to be  a woman who is an equal partner in society, no longer women behind but side by side with our men as equal partners”.

Great initiative but I wonder, can we have a mentoring program for boys as well? One which teaches them that older women sleeping with them is a form of abuse and not something they should be “proud of”? One that teaches them that they do not deserve sex whenever and wherever they want it, and that they should not be afraid to speak up when they are being forced into situations they are uncomfortable with? Our society has taught men for far too long, that their “manhood” and brains lay in their penises, and that women exist solely to provide them with pleasure.

In the next breath, you are alleged to have stated, that the girls should “…be bold, be confident, be respectful. If you wear a short dress, it’s fashionable but know that it can attract somebody who would want to rape or defile you. You must be responsible for the choices you make”.

Here is where I screamed in fury before being reduced to a weeping mess. My dear woman, that was a terrible gaffe. You revealed in those words, the fact that you are as much embroiled in the patriarchal BS that we are fed daily, as women. As the defender of human rights, you managed, in one fell swoop, to lay the blame for rape at the feet of the victims (fine, fine, potential victims). Please be informed, if you have not read my header above, “Rape is not an STD and we cannot prevent it by covering up“.

Rape Condom! To deter lusty males from infecting your body with rape.

Your statement ignores the following:

  1. Rape is not about sex. People do not rape because they are horny and want to get off. No, rape is about control, about power, about abusing a vulnerability, be it mental or physical. It is this “power thirst” that has warriors raping while they pillage villages. You think they simply miss their wives? No no it is about humiliation of the enemy and proving their weakness. “Haha you call yourselves warriors? Watch us violate your women and children”. Sex has been used as a weapon for years and so I am appalled when I meet people who miss the purpose of rape.
  2. Rape involves more than a penis and a vagina. I do not believe in the Ghanaian legal definition for rape, as it assumes just as you have, that rape only involves a man placing his penis inside of a woman’s vagina. The term defilement annoys me also, as it implies a sullying of the victim. The victim is not dirty, in the case of “defilement” so why use such a disgusting term? Newsflash, Madam Minister, men can be raped too. They can be raped by men, and by women. Once upon a time, I thought it was impossible to rape a man but then I learned that rape is about consent, and consent can be denied, even in the presence of a physical response.Research has shown that in fight or flight situations, men can have erections. The same happens with women, who often are ashamed to report rape because their bodies responded during the struggle. Most often, their attackers even point out to them the fact that their bodies are prepped and ready.I ask you, as a woman who seems to think that short skirts are the reason for rape, what would you say to a woman who told you she said no to a man but he forced himself on her and that, to her shame, she had an orgasm or two? Would you as gender Minister then decide her orgasm was proof of consent? I think you need some gender sensitivity training.
  3. Rapists have self control. Yes they do! They have so much self control in fact, that they actively search for persons they can overpower physically and mentally. A rapist who is 5’4″ and weighs 50kg will not attempt to physically overpower a person who is 6’2″ and weighs 90kg, certainly not without a weapon, or with prior knowledge that the potential victim is not mentally sound and thus can be coerced into the act.All those house helps seducing their young charges, call it statutory rape or no, there is a clear indication that these persons have had their bodies and rights violated.The idea that showing a little bare skin is enough to drive men into a sexual frenzy is absurd and should not be perpetrated any further. If a woman should choose to walk through the streets naked, it is not an excuse for anyone, male or female to touch them inappropriately, let alone insert objects into any orifices.  You liken men to animals with no self control, when we have seen dogs back off from food because they were told “NO”. Are men honestly reduced below the level of dogs when they get turned on?
  4. Rapists do not always beat their victims into submission. Most children who are assaulted will tell you their attackers did not beat them. They may have threatened violence either on their person or that of a loved one in order to get them to keep quiet, but overall, child molesters (rapists) simply prey on innocence and naivete to get what they want. Drugging an adult victim is a sure way of overpowering them without physical force. Or perhaps you, like the Ghana Police, want every victim to turn up with rope burns, swollen eyes, busted lips and vaginal tears to prove they did not consent to sex?
  5. Women in full clothing get raped too. The high incidence of rape in countries like India and Bangladesh are proof enough that no matter what a person wears, they can still be attacked by predators. Long skirt, short skirt, tights or jeans trousers, none will prevent a narcissist from taking what they want.

Pardon me for the long rant but I feel very passionately about this because this argument allows a lot of rapists to get away scott free. It allows boyfriends, dates, husbands (yes and girlfriends and wives) to simply refuse to take no for an answer, force a physical response from their victim and take from them, that which they do not wish to give.

Patriarchy has done this to us. Women are taught they are to blame if they are raped, that they are at fault if they get pregnant and men are taught that they are men when they have a high body count. They refuse to consider that they could be sexually assaulted because they cannot fathom ever having a woman or another man managing to overpower them physically or mentally.

Let’s please get this right and stop victim shaming. Giving predators excuses will never do, and teaching our young women that their clothing will drive men into a frenzy is beyond irresponsible.

Ms Djaba, i must ask you to do better. As gender minister, you are more than just a voice for the voiceless. You should never be caught perpetrating such misogyny.  Please don’t ever tell girls they make a choice to be preyed on by rapists when they dress a certain way. I don’t see us telling the lion that the gazelle was prancing about like a slut and deserved to be eaten.
And thus a closet rapist is born

The next time you talk about sexual abuse in any form, please remember to discuss consent. Let it be known that a man or woman has no right to demand oral, vaginal or anal sex from another person. Let them know even hand jobs are not to be demanded.

I and other Ghanaians want to hear you telling men and women that even if a person consented to sex, and is in the middle of the act, they still have a choice to say no and walk away. Let it also be known that if a man or woman says no to sex, that it is not alright to convince them to say yes, by stroking their bodies into submission.

This is one thing I have noticed in some Ghanaian relationships, where people assume the person saying no is playing hard to get. Disrespecting the person’s wants and choices, forcing a physical response from them, and carrying on is reprehensible. Sex is supposed to be between two willing individuals. The fact that one person has to be coerced should surely kill any vim, no? 

Oh by the way, I went out drinking on Friday night wearing a short dress and heels. The older male I was with, despite my near intoxication, thin frame and sexy clothing (the dress even had cut outs to show some flesh above my boobs) did not rape me. He had several chances, as we were in a dark and quiet section of the bar we visited and the streets on our drive back to my home were dark, to overpower and rape me, but he did not. In fact, he did not even touch my arm or leg, simply because I had already told him prior, that I was not interested in sex with him, or anyone, and that I was only interested in making a new friend. I know this must be a shock to you, and to others who hold your views that men are uncontrollable beings led by their penises but this man is a prime example of what we nurture when we, as a society teach men and women to respect each other, and make them understand that they are not entitled to anything from another person.

Oh by the by, I apologise for calling your hairstyle a chicken style on twitter. I was overcome by anger yet still, I owe you an apology. Your hairstyle should have no impact on your duty, unless the weave is sewn in too tight and making it impossible for you to concentrate.

Be the woman we expect you to be, Otiko. Show us that you’re here to protect all genders and that you are capable of doing your job.

Sincerely Yours,

~Daixy~

PS I have so much more to say but I am emotionally and physically exhausted. Should you wish to debate further, my twitter handle is @D41XY. I loooove to debate online, but only when I do not have deadlines to meet.

 

When Life is Just too Hard to Deal With: 13 yr old girl commits suicide!!

Image via Wikipedia

Reading the paper today, this story caught my eye. Girl, 13, Commits Suicide.

Apparently, thirteen (13) year old Abigail who lives with her Aunt (Beatrice) in Takoradi decided that life was just too much for her to deal with. This child hanged herself for what she claims to be unfounded accusations of promiscuity and theft. A day after reporting the suicide to the police, Beatrice produced a “suicide note” in which Abigail is said to have stated that a colleague and friend of Beatrice’s (Sophia) had accused her of stealing phone cards and a charger. The little girl went on in her note to state that her aunt had accused her of flirting, and most importantly, denied those claims.

Perhaps I’m being picky, but shouldn’t the police when they investigated the scene, have discovered the note? What sort of detective work did they do? If you come across a suicide scene, isn’t the first thing you do after checking to see if there is any sign of a pulse to look for a note?

I wonder who this little girl was. I may not have known her, but I wish I knew who she was and what happened to her. I think about whether or not she had NO ONE to talk to about the persecution she felt she was facing. I’m wondering how bad it had to be for her to decide to end it all. I’ve already given her a profile in my head. Most likely she is orphaned and living with the only relative who would have her. Or perhaps her parents are incapable of caring for her and chose to send her to stay with a better off relation, as is often the case here in Ghana.

My question is, how did this child come to the conclusion that she could go to no one for help? Was there not a pastor she spoke to? A playmate? A concerned neighbour? If it was that bad, could she not have run away? Why did she feel there was nothing else out there for her?

I wish someone could have saved her from her demons, real or imagined as they may be. I figure what disturbed me most was how in the “Weekend Mirror” an “observer” was quoted to have said that the girl killed herself to cover up her crimes. That person hinted that Abigail may have been pregnant and may have killed herself to avoid punishment. Grr. I sincerely doubt that anyone, choosing to end their life for a crime they committed, would choose to leave the sort of note Abigail did. Most likely, she would have apologised for her crimes in the note. It would take a truly bitter soul to leave a farewell note declaring themselves innocent of a crime they committed. Like, think of it. If you’re leaving the world anyway, why hide your sins? It doesn’t gel with me. This girl in whatever state she was in, still felt the need to declare her innocence. And goodbye she wrote out in capital letters? She made it very clear who it was she was running from. If she truly were pregnant, would she not have given some explanation on that? Perhaps an apology for killing her unborn child?

So now, I feel terrible for her aunt, who most likely did not realise what was going on. Surely, she never meant to harm the girl. It’s quite probable that there were reasons for her to believe Abigail was headed for trouble and she acted the only way she knew how. How can this woman feel now, taking the blame for this tragedy?

Whether she is responsible or not, I doubt there is any way that she will be able to get out of this without feeling guilty. Little Abigail did far more than take her own life. She marked at least one woman for life and most likely ruined their reputations. This woman will forever blame herself for not seeing this coming, for not dealing with the situation properly, for not listening…..you know us humans; even without the note, she’d make herself responsible.

This raises a lot of issues about the way children are raised in this country. How much is too much chastising and ridiculing? When is it not okay to call a child up, sit them down and tell them to the face that their actions are wrong? When should you give up on correcting a child and guiding them on the right path?

This is where counseling services would be helpful in Ghana. Sure, a person has committed suicide, but what of the people who are left behind, those that feel guilty? Who is to save them from sinking into the same states that their friends and loved ones were in?

I feel that if we had better child services, if CHRAJ and WAJU and other social services were running properly in this country……would Abigail still be alive? I’m wondering how many more cases such as this will have to occur before something is done in this country and wish that people who have the Know How will step forward and DO SOMETHING about mental health issues in Ghana. At least our children should have one place they can go to when they feel oppressed and depressed.

It’s bad enough when adults who should know better commit suicide but when our children turn to it? We should know by now that we have a problem and our Nations leaders should quit arguing about which members of parliament are homosexuals and actually get down to doing their work. People like Derrick Adjei, should be talking about ways to keep our youth from pulling stunts like this, not mouthing off about Akuffo Addos’s supposed diminutive stature. Just you wait! Your time in Daixy’s corner will come sooner than you think.

~Daixy~

related posts:
Daixy on Suicide Prevention day
Daixy on Suicide Debunked
Links within posts

When life is just too hard to deal with: World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and it’s got me thinking a lot about things I can do to make the situation better in Ghana.  Depression, Suicide and abuse are not treated properly in this country but at least we have CHRAJ and WAJU.  Depression and suicide and mental health issues are ignored in Ghana and I believe that’s a huge boo boo.  I don’t know why it is that we are so afraid of death.  It’s a subject most do not want to discuss and even more so when someone takes his/her own life.  But I think burying our heads in the sand won’t make the problem go away.

Adults and children alike have been committing suicide in Ghana for several years.  Our poor record keeping though, means we don’t have actual figures.  Most info on suicide in Ghana comes from the sensationalist tabloids who aren’t given much credit for their newsworthiness.  We get stories like this one from time to time which shock us to the core momentarily and then we go about our daily business and forget all about the tragedy.

According to this article, over 1500 people, most of them between the ages of 20 and 35, were reported to have committed suicide in 2008.  I checked the Annual report of the Ghana Health Service and this wasn’t mentioned. I truly wonder if these reported cases come from the Ghana Police Service or the Health service.  Where are these figures from?!!!  The 2009 Annual report doesn’t mention Mental Health at all.  In 2007 however, according to their annual report,only 3.6% of the budget allocated to the Ghana Health Service went to the Mental health Services.   3.6%?  Healthy Mind Healthy Body!!!!  I know we have major diseases to deal with like TB and Malaria and Lymphatic Filariasis but seriously…..3.6% explains why we have so few mental health centres and why they are understaffed.  Shame on you GHS.  You should know better.

I have heard that KNUST has started a counseling centre to deal with these issues amongst its students. It’s a wonderful idea, what with the number of jumpers Tech has had over the years.  In searching for that, I discovered Lifeline Ghana.  I wonder if they’re fully operational and will be looking deeper into it.   They were kind enough to list their phone numbers so I will be giving them a call.


I’d love to see Legon do the same thing Tech is rumoured to be doing, and eventually spread it out all over the country. Anyone interested in seeing that happen should holla @ me.  I’m ready to get stuck in but will need all the help I can get.  More people on board will give us a bigger voice.

So um, Happy Suicide Prevention Day! 😀  Remember to hug your loved ones and tell them you care. And that loner of a coworker, maybe you should invite em out for a cup of coffee. I want to see us do this all day of the year.  This ain’t christmas to think about only on the D day 🙂

Anywho, don’t forget to check out :

WHO
IASP
WHO WSPD statement 2009

~Daixy~

When life is just too hard to deal with: Myths debunked

“Ghanaians don’t get depressed,”  This comment had me laughing early last week.  “it’s americans like you who flip out over everything.”   
First of all, I am very much a Ghanaian.  I simply open myself up to other cultures 😛 
Second, just cuz I’ve had a very interesting past and it’s scarred me a bit doesn’t mean I’m mentally unsound.  Why should it take a crazy person to think about steps to prevent suicide? I find it odd that the second I try to talk about rape, abuse, suicide or depression, it becomes a game of driving nails into dry concrete with me bare fingers!
Third, dealing with my issues shouldn’t stop me from facing up to reality and saying, I want to do something about this.  Doesn’t have to stop me from starting whatever movement I want or lobbying my local MP or regional health director for infrastructure I believe should be in place. And now that that rant is over, I can get down to the business off the day.
What I’d like to do today is debunk a few myths about self harm and suicide.  I can’t cover them all and I’m not going to explain what they are.  Links below should be sufficient methinks….
Suicide rates per 100,000 peopleImage via Wikipedia 
Myth:  Suicides don’t occur in Ghana.
Fact:  Suicide occurs all over the world. In fact, it is the 10th leading cause of death globally. Over a million people commit suicide every year all over the world.  Sadly, no one seems to be collecting data on suicide in Ghana and most of Africa.  We do not as yet have the necessary systems in place for reporting and recording of suicide attempts and successes. The map above is as accurate as the WHO can make it.  Without actual data, there is nothing they or any other organisation can do.
To save face, families in Ghana bribe police officers and medical practitioners into changing the cause of death.  This is most especially so when they are christian.  As such, the police and hospitals here very rarely report such cases.
Myth: People hurt themselves or attempt suicide for attention.
Fact: Au contraire. People who self harm are simply trying to feel, something anything. They usually are detached from this world and feel they are alone, unloved, repressed. Cutting, burning, they turn to pain as they cannot feel happiness, love. Other times, they are punishing themselves for some crime they perceive they committed.  A lot of people suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) will do this. Quite often they have suffered physical or sexual abuse and are unable to deal with the psychological fallout.  The result therefore is a need to externalize the pain, to “make it real.”
Myth: People who talk about suicide are looking for attention.
Fact: People who talk about suicide are reaching out for help. They’ve thought about it and are scared that they’ll actually go through with it.
Myth:  If you’re depressed, just make yourself happy.  Snap out of it.
Fact:  If it was that easy, your friend, family member, colleague wouldn’t have the cuts, burns and bruises they do, and most importantly?  They wouldn’t be thinking of ending it.
Myth:  Suicide occurs without warming.

Fact:  Usually, suicide victims will leave some sort of clue as to what they intend to do.  There is always some verbal or behavioural hint. Most often though, these clues are ignored or not taken seriously.

Myth:  Asking someone if they are thinkingof suicide will plant the idea in their head.
Fact: Talking about suicide will NOT give a person who is not considering it ideas.  If you feel the need to ask someone this question, then most likely they’ve left clues that led you to that conclusion.  Asking them will not make them go out and do it. A lot of suicidal persons will be relieved to have someone ask them about it.  It’s a huge burden to bear by oneself and someone who has been struggling with the urge and wants a friend to talk to will actually be grateful for the opportunity to share some of their fears.
Myth:  Once a person has attempted suicide, he or she will never try it again.
Fact: If your friend or loved one has made the attempt before, please keep an eye out, especially when they are under stressful conditions.  People who make attempts and fail are most likely  to come up with a different plan of action, with the sole aim of actually going through with it.  Perhaps the last time you were lucky enough to grab him before he ran under a bus.  Well next time, perhaps your friend would have researched on the number of pills he needs to swallow and would have made sure to lock his door.
Please do not treat any threat of suicide lightly.  If you suspect someone of having suicidal thoughts, talk to them. Find out if they have a definite plan. Someone who has gone so far as to set out a plan (or several plans) has had a lot of time to prepare and could take action at any minute. Try to get them to talk about their problems and see if you can get them to go see a counselor. Look for signs of self harm. Usual suspects are long sleeves (even in hot weather) to hide ligatures on the arms and a reluctance to dress in shorts/skirts. When your friend, daughter, colleague suddenly changes their style of dressing to cover up, it’s usually a sure sign of distress.
Sources and links:

Self Harm
Self harm on the BBC

~Daixy~

When Life is too hard to deal with: To Write Love On Her Arms

To Write Love On Her ArmsImage by ninniane via Flickr
So, I was going to write one big piece for this week as suicide prevention day is coming up, but it just made me sad, depressed and frankly, I entered a dark place. I decided instead to provide links to info I think the world should read and give the little extra that I feel should be stressed on. Addiction, Depression, Self Harm and Suicide are topics that truly matter to me, right up there with abuse. I consider addiction, self harm and suicide to be abuse, not only of oneself, but of the people around you.   They do far more harm than we expect, scarring the lives of millions of people each year.
 
To Write Love on Her ArmsImage via Wikipedia
I want to introduce you guys to TWLOHA (To Write Love on Her Arms).  It’s a movement dedicated to the above.  TWLOHA has been raising awareness about addiction, depression, self harm and suicide since 2006.  They link people to hotlines and rehab centres close by and they offer real life stories from real life victims.  TWLOHA is all about showing people that they are not alone, that they are loved, and that life is so worth living right.  Feel free to visit their site and read their blog. The only problem I have with TWLOHA is that it’s transitioned from a movement into a fad.  Everyone is writing love, but not everyone knows why.  I think we should all know the reasons why we do what we do.  I missed TWLOHA day this year (was in febuary), I think the decision was made to randomise it so it’s not treated like christmas, where people think about it only at that time of the year.
For those of you out there who are feeling lost and all alone, who think constantly of suicide, who hurt yourselves:  remember, don’t pick up that razor, don’t slice up that wrist.  Instead, write “Love” on your arms. 
I write love on my arms.  Hopefully, you will too…..
~Daixy~