Indecent assault, also known as groping is the most common forms of sexual assault worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) published in an article in 2017 that globally, about 1 in 3 (35%) of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Majority of girls and women fall victim having experienced forms of sexual assault . Unfortunately, sexual assault has not clearly been understood by many. Most women and girls are ignorant of the fact that being touched inappropriately, whether on the chest, backside or caressed on any sensitive part of their body constitutes sexual assault.
Nevertheless, indecent assault cases keep rising because society has portrayed women as sex objects in the media, arts and culture. This has even created the perception in the minds of some women and girls that being objectified is normal.Therefore, this gives men the audacity to demand sexual pleasures from women without their consent. This mentality causes victims to trivialize indecent assault or unwanted sexual touching, hence these cases are not often reported to the appropriate authorities by victims.
It is appalling when people trivialize indecent assault. For some men especially, touching a lady at her backside, hips or chest is not an abusive act as long as there was no further action taken. Most people shamefully do not what the laws of Ghana say about sexual assault. To them, as long as it is just touching and not rape or defilement, then it should not be considered as sexual assault.
We need to clearly understand what sexual assault is and report perpetrators to be punished for their actions.
The definition of indecent assault spelled out in the Criminal Offence Act 1960, (Act 25) is as follows:
(1) A person commits the offence of indecent assault if, without the consent of the other person he—
(a) Forcibly makes any sexual bodily contact with that other person; or
(b) Sexually violates the body of that other person in any manner not amounting to carnal knowledge or unnatural carnal knowledge.
As long as an individual is touched at any sensitive part of their body without consent, it violates his/her rights and needs to be addressed. Any form of groping, unwanted sexual touch or indecent assault must be addressed appropriately.
There have been several myths about sexual assault. Some of these are:
· Most sexual assault cases are committed by strangers.
· Women enjoy being sexually assaulted.
· A man can’t be sexually assaulted by a woman
· Women who wear revealing clothes are asking to be sexually assaulted.
· Men cannot be sexually assaulted by another man.
Sexual assault must be addressed as the law defines it, and not as defined by individuals. It is best we as a people ignore the myths surrounding sexual assault and address the menace head on. I believe that if issues of sexual assault are frowned upon and handled appropriately, it would go a long way to minimize the occurrences of incidence like rape and defilement.
Offenders must be made to understand that, as long as they sexually abuse someone without consent,it is a crime and hence, must be punished by the standards of the law. It is also worth noting that, there is no small act or big act when it comes to sexual assault. The law frowns on any forced sexual act perpetrated without the victim’s consent.
The time is now, for all of us to serve as watchdogs in our communities. We must help in combating all forms of sexual assault by bringing to book, perpetrators.
It is our collective responsibility.