Ablakwa abolishes payment by defilement, rape victims to hospitals in his constituency

The Member of Parliament for North Tongu in the Volta region, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has blazed a trail in abolishing payment of fees by victims of sexual assault when they visit hospitals in his constituency.

Samuel-Okudzeto-Ablakwa

According to the ‘Best Lawmaker Of The Year2021’, this is his initiative and, "the North Tongu District Health Director and the Medical Superintendents of the Battor Catholic Hospital and the Tagadzi Polyclinic are fully on board to implement" it.

The MP, who is also the ranking member of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, took to his Facebook page on Sunday, May 7, which was Mothers’ Day, to announce that the abolishment took immediate effect.

According to him, the hospitals in his constituency will not be making losses as a result of this initiative, but rather, they "will submit a quarterly report to the District Health Directorate for prompt payment by the North Tongu MP’s office."

Ablakwa described the current status quo in which already traumatized victims of sexual assault are required to pay fees before being attended to by hospitals as unfair.

"All victims of defilement, rape and other forms of sexual assault will now be attended to free of charge," Ablakwa announced in a post to mark the immediate past Mothers’ Day celebration, saying, "We must all help preserve the dignity of womanhood."

"Hitherto, victims of sexual offences are asked to pay between GHS150 and GHS400 to have their police medical forms filled by doctors.

"These vulnerable and traumatized victims need our collective support, and the removal of all barriers towards securing justice by successfully prosecuting those demonic perpetrators," he added.

In Ghana, victims of sexual assault who visit hospitals, including state-owned ones with police reports, are still required to pay before they are examined, treated, and a doctor's report is given to them to help in the prosecution of the perpetrators of the crime.

There have been calls by human rights, gender rights advocates and other well-meaning Ghanaians for the abolishment of the practice, but that has not received attention from successive governments.

Sometimes, it takes the support of some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to foot the bills of victims from less privileged homes, and then help get justice for them.

Hopefully, the central government will take a cue from what the North Tongu MP has done to initiate a national policy to address this widely-criticized practice.

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