The Legon authorities have announced their much-awaited decision, and the seven male students who assaulted Amina Haruna, a female visitor to the Legon campus, have been punished.
It appears though, that the national Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) is dissatisfied with the conclusions reached by the Legon authorities regarding their decision to sanction the perpetrators of this barbaric act. I wonder what on earth the NUGS executives want the Legon authorities to do - give medals to the seven miscreants, or confer honorary academic laurels on them? Doesn't NUGS understand that as the mouthpiece of the students of Ghana that body is the barometer of the conscience and conduct of Ghanaian students, and that in times like this it must be circumspect in its public utterances. That's why as the representatives of the students who brutally assaulted the poor lady, NUGS ought to examine its pronouncements
Did Ms Haruna have to be attacked by the Legon students? Did they have to strip her naked? And why did they have to spread her legs apart, touch her genitals and film all of that? Was it a real desire for justice, even their own kind, that motivated the students to descend to that abysmally low level in judgment? Were they driven by sheer voyeurism to the point that their self serving behavior trumped the dignity of their victim? Legon campus is supposed to house some of the best brains in Ghana - enlightened people who have been placed in the forefront of the nation's scholarship and who, it is expected, are in training to become the next generation of leaders in academia, business and politics.
Ghanaian men seem to have an incurable penchant for degrading their women, even in public. Whether Ms. Haruna was guilty of theft or not was completely beside the point. She was supposed to be presumed innocent until allegations of stealing brought against her had been tried in court and proven to be true.
Even then, it would be the government that would dispense justice to her, and not individuals or groups of concerned citizens. Presumption of innocence of every alleged criminal is an important element of most democratic societies, and Ghanaians must emulate that concept. As tempting as it may feel to rush to judgment over even the vilest offender, presumption of innocence is an indispensable legal principle which differentiates Ghana under Kufuor and Mills from the Kangaroo justice system of the AFRC, PNDC and Rawlings' NDC.
Vigilante justice is still so prevalent in Ghana in spite of the advances made in the improvement of our criminal justice system. We believe wrongly that taking the law into our hands and swiftly doling out our own form of justice to wrong doers is effective and more deterrent than letting law enforcement and the courts deal with them. The danger in that kind of thinking is that there is grave danger of hurting innocent people, or dispensing a disproportionately harsh form of punishment even to the right person.
Understandably, Ghanaian university campuses, especially the three leading universities, have always been hotbeds of student activism and youthful rumbustiousness. My generation passed through Legon in the mid-1980s, at the height of the PNDC tyranny. Considering that we had a colossal enemy who was unrelenting in his tactics to silence Ghanaian students, our restlessness had a purpose to it. Our tongues were as sharp, as our pens were mighty, and we remained a constant thorn in the side (how about butt) of the PNDC government until elections were held. Even so, we were never violent because violence as a modus operandi is counter-productive.
It is my dream that one day Ghana shall take its place among the comity of developed nations. And it is even being rumored that Ghana is developing because today almost every one owns a cell phone; hundreds of people drive expensive cars; and that stately mansions are springing up all over the country. I am very doubtful , though, that these are accurate indices of development.
I believe that development begins first with our collective mindset as a people. It has been said that the way a nation treats its most vulnerable - women, children, prisoners, the handicapped, etc. - says much about it's state of social development. Legon men, either you lead the way, or you step aside!
Source: Dakosbe Ebsokad [email protected]
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|