What is the Department of Social Welfare doing for the aged and vulnerable?

The Ghanaian Times respectfully wishes to refer its cherished readers and the public at large to one of its front-pageheadlines, ‘I fear I’ll be raped’ in its yesterday’s issue.

In this story, a 65-year-old physically-challenged woman resident at Teshie, Accra, expresses fear of being raped by a yet-to-be-identified young man who resides in her neighbourhood.

Madam Victoria Abroah says she lives alone and that she has on countless occasions failed to report the harassment of the man to the policebecause she cannot move around easily because of the faulty nature of her wheelchair.

She is, therefore, calling on the authorities to come to her rescue before she becomes a victim of rape.

The story of Madam Abroah raises various issues or questions. One is our socialprotection system.

Social protection refers to the set of policies and programmes designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability by promoting efficient labour market, reducing people’s exposure to risks, and enhancing their capacity to protect themselves against hazards and interruption or loss of income.

Clearly, this is weak in the country because the 65-year-old has no source of social welfare earning as she lives on the benevolence of others.

Also, such a vulnerable person, just as other citizens, needs public protection from the police and assurance of such protectionshould be evident in regular well-coordinated police patrols as it is the case in other jurisdictions. Such a situation couldhave made the woman to shout forpolice assistance any time that shameless rapist of a man came in to harass her.

There are countless number of people like Madam  Abroah who do not enjoy  sound sleep for one fear or another and they need public protection.

Is there any law that encourages neighbours to go to the aid of people in distress, and guarantees any protection for the one coming to save the situation should the unexpected happen?

Our traditional communal living is dissipating faster than anyone can imagine, so there is the need for the state to replace it with a legal system that can appeal to people to help others without any fear of becoming a victim of circumstance.

Related to this is the breakdown of the traditional family system whereby the childless couldstill feel a mother because she could have other family members’ children to relate to her as if they were her biological children. Why should Madam Abroah live alone  and go through trauma because she has lost her children?

“I know the true meaning of pain, I hardly experience love because I live alone and have no close relatives here…. I am almost 70 years now and the last thing I need is to be facing a rapist every now and then. I need help to ensure I am safe from any form of sexual harassment from anybody,” Madam Abroah said. What a moving outburst?

She said she suspected the young man’s behaviour was due to excessive use of drugs. What else can make a young man to go after a poor 65-year-old physically-challenged woman?

The state should not relent on efforts to deal with drug use in the country.

By the way, what is the Department of Social Welfare doing to make life better for the lonely aged and vulnerable?

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