The Commander for the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DVVSU) of the Upper West Regional Police Command, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Adongo Apiiya, has cautioned men against sexual and gender based violence as these were criminal and punishable by law.
Sexual and gender-based violence are all the negative physical, emotional or psychological behaviours exhibited towards an individual which are illegal because the person might be a minor or not welcome because the person may not be interested”, he explained.
The commander indicated that such offenses were criminal and prosecutable at the court of law when the perpetrator was caught and handed over to the police.
ASP Apiiya stated this at a meeting at Duong on SGBV under the auspices of the Department of Gender in the region with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The meeting on Tuesday brought together participants ranging from students to workers from various communities around Duong in the Nadowli-Kaleo District to learn about SGBV, its prevention and how to deal with the menace if they became victims.
“Acts that are classified as SGBV include rape, defilement, abduction, early and forced marriages, unlawful assault and unwelcome advances as well as unwarranted physical touch which an individual deemed offensive”, he enumerated.
ASP Apiiya said that such offenses could lead the peprtrator to jail terms of between five and 30 years depending on the nature and depth of the crime.
He explained rape as forxcibly having sex with an individual who was 16 years and above without their consent whereas defilement referred to sexual acts with a child below 16 years with or without their consent.
“For a child below 16 years, her consent does not matter because the law takes the excuse for her so you cannot have sex with a child within that age category and tell the police that she agreed to you having sex with her, you will still be found culpable”, he explained and said such offenders could serve jail term of not less than seven years when prosecuted and found guilty.
The commander explained again that taking someone below 18 years away from her parents house without the consent of the parents to live with the person could be termed abduction, if the girl consented to the act.
“I am very particular about the young men because they are mostly the guilty ones when it comes to such issues and we want them to have fruitful life devoid of criminal charges and records so it is better to discipline yourself morally to avoid this,” he advised.
He encouraged the public to promptly report issues of SGBV to the police to help identify the perpetrator for legal actions to be preferred against them and the victim duly attended to.
For her part, the Regional Director of the Department of Gender, Mrs Charity Banye added that the sensitisation of individuals on SGBV was to provide them with the needed knowledge on the subject matter, and also empower them to report such cases to the appropriate authorities for redress.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, DUONG