The Hope Exchange Medical Centre, a Catholic Health Facility in the Ashanti Region has taken up the task of providing specialized care for children who suffer sexual abuse.
The hospital has already begun advocacy to break the culture of silence and out of court settlement; that occasions such as criminal acts.
It comes at a time one out of every three children in Ghana experiences one form of sexual abuse before turning 18
Multi Sectorial Statistics further suggests that only 30% disclose their experience to an adult while out of all cases reported, only 2% see perpetrators properly convicted.
Pediatrician and head of the child health unit of the Hope Exchange Medical Centre, Dr. Yaa Adoma Dwomo-Fokuo recounted harrowing reports at the opening of the first Child Sexual Health Clinic at its Santase Apre facility in Kumasi.
She recounted, “A sixteen year old called me that an Assemblies of God pastor has been sexually abusing her for the past two years even before he goes to preach on Sunday mornings. Two weeks ago an 11-year-old was brought to us in the clinic because she had been sexually abused by a truck pusher in the market. Just last week we had a four-year-old boy who came in with pain urinating only for us to find out members of his household were in the habit of pulling on his penis when he is bathing.”
“The stories are heartbreaking but they are countless,” she lamented.
Queen mother of Adumanya, Nana Yaa Pokuaa who graced the occasion bemoaned the phenomenon where a majority of child sexual abuse cases are settled out of court and meagre compensations paid to chiefs and family heads.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Ashanti Regional Minister Simon Osei Mensah expressed worry, government’s support systems for sexually abused children are weak and victim unfriendly.
Chief Executive Officer of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital Dr. Oheneba Owusu Danso called for such facilities like the Hope Exchange Child Sexual Abuse Clinic, to be supported by state agencies mandated to deal holistically with such cases.
“The other sectors must also help in the process. The security services should conduct proper arrests and investigations of perpetrators. We urge the courts to be very timely with the processes leading to the conviction of such people where the evidence is very clear,” he suggested.
The Child Sexual Health Clinic is set to offer medical, legal, and psycho-social support to victims while encouraging them to come out to share their experiences.
It is being complemented by a Child Sexual Abuse Advocacy drive which the hospital is championing in religious gatherings, the market places, the media, schools, and other points of social and commercial gatherings.