Visuals for Gender reached out to some female students in Junior High School, of the Ancilla Preparatory School on the 18th of October 2019. The purpose of the visit was to give a talk to these young ones about their self-development, realities of sexual violence and the laws enshrined in the Criminal Code 1960, Act 29, against gender-based violence.
The session first started with a pep talk led by the assistant project coordinator of Visuals for Gender, Princess Erwina Ndom. The students were given the platform to ask and answer questions on the following topics, sexual violence, consent, and indecent dressing. The girls freely asked questions and gave their opinions as to why some men/boys sexually abuse girls. Some others blamed girls who dressed indecently as the cause of incidences of sexual violence. This stirred a heated discussion amongst girls who disagreed that indecent dressing should result in the abuse of girls.
The girls were enlightened on the fact that sexual violence should not be excused because the victim was indecently dressed, however, they were encouraged to dress decently, which is morally acceptable. The girls also shared their understanding of consent. After, the girls were made to understand that they have total power over their bodies and as such, no one has the right to violate them. They were made to know they had the power to give consent and still have the power to withdraw their consent at any time.
As the session climaxed, Dr. Dzifah Attah, a Clinical Psychologist and lecturer at the University of Ghana, led the girls through a session on self-esteem and self-confidence. She taught the girls the importance for them to be confident about how they look and appreciate the way God made them. This exercise was vital to make the girls embrace their self-worth and never allow anyone to take their power from them, by telling them they are not beautiful. She took the girls through three different tests, in which they were made to answer questions that would help them access their self-esteem and confidence.
Afterward, the girls were taken through a session on ‘Sexual Assault’. They were first shown a video in relation to the topic, after which Princess Erwina Ndom, gave them a detailed explanation of sexual assault. They were exposed to what sexual assault entails. They were also encouraged to speak up if they ever experienced any form of sexual assault and report the case to their parents, teachers, a counselor, and most importantly, report to the police.
The girls were also educated on ‘Consent and the Law’. This discussion was led by Florence Toffa, Project Coordinator of Visuals for Gender. She explained to the girls what consent is and the laws that give protect victims of sexual violence. She highlighted some aspects of the Criminal offense Code, Act 25 that gives detailed provisions of how the law protects victims of sexual violence. They were made to understand that the law is made to protect them, hence if they speak up about their experience with sexual violence, the perpetrator will be punished/arrested.
The girls expressed their delight when the event came to an end. Some of them approached some of the speakers to ask more questions and to seek clarification on some of the issues discussed.
We believe that such talks are very important to help give young girls a deeper understanding of the realities of sexual violence and the need to be abreast of the fact that, they will be protected if they reported perpetrators of sexual violence.