52% of females in SHS sexually assaulted in 2 years – Report

A recent report jointly published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Girls Excellent Movement (GEM) has unveiled distressing statistics, indicating that 51.9% of female students in Senior High Schools (SHS) experienced sexual assaults between 2019 and 2021.

The report, titled “Sheltered yet Exposed,” reveals that 54.3% of these girls were aged between 17 and 22, while 45.7% were in the age groups of 11 to 16. The report highlights that these acts of assault were typically committed by individuals known to the victims, including friends, family friends, schoolmates, teachers, and even strangers. Specifically, friends accounted for 24%, family friends for 12%, schoolmates for 12%, teachers for 10%, and strangers for 9% of the reported cases.

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The Founder and Executive Director of GEM, Madam Juliana Ama Kplorfia, presented these findings during a stakeholder engagement event in Accra. The engagement, organized by the Center for Social Justice (CSJ) with support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Ghana, aimed to address the issue of sexual harassment in SHS and the role of various stakeholders.

Madam Kplorfia pointed out that other groups involved in perpetrating sexual assaults against female students in SHS included uncles, cousins, neighbors, fathers, and fathers-in-law. In addition to sexual assaults, the report revealed that these young females also endured other forms of gender-based violence, such as physical assault, bullying, verbal abuse, and harassment.

She explained that the primary reasons these females became victims of various forms of abuse were mainly related to academic, financial, and mental challenges. Discussing the consequences of such abuse, she noted that many victims experienced depression, trauma, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and panic attacks, which sometimes led them to drop out of school.

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Madam Kplorfia called upon the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to adequately resource the counseling units in schools to effectively address these issues. She also urged parents and guardians to closely monitor female students in schools and ensure that they had positive role models, as some fell prey to sexual assaults due to the lack of suitable guidance.

Furthermore, Madam Kplorfia appealed to the government to make medical reports for rape and sexual harassment free. She also advocated for the elimination of taxes on sanitary pads and suggested that these essential items should be provided to schools free of charge.

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