I am writing this article as a parent and a Ghanaian. All views represented below shall carry this tone and intent.
The Great Lamptey Mills case is one of several that will never find their way to the front pages of our newspapers or the front burner of our so-called radio analysis programs. They are simply not political and they do not seem to scatter or throw mud at any of the political big shots in Ghana. Unfortunately in this country, the stories that matter do not make it ever to our front burner – we allocate time for playing music on our radio stations, we speak for four hours in the week day mornings and play music thereafter.
Once again the Ghana police has shown its inability to deal with the issues that affect the ordinary people of Ghana. We have a host of laws in this country – the domestic violence act and sections of the criminal code (those amended or otherwise).The Ghana police, I am sure, are (or must be) aware of the various legal instruments they could have used in this matter to prosecute Mr. Lamptey Mills. These include provisions of the Domestic Violence Act and the Criminal code of 1969 (Act 29), which criminalize sexual violence, especially, violence against girls in basic school. Under these laws Lamptey Mills could (should) have been charged with several counts – marrying a minor, having sexual relations with a minor and willfully causing bodily harm to minor. The girl’s parents are willing abettors in this crime as well because they agreed to the marriage and also were (if it can be so proven) willing to conceal a crime. They should also have been punished.
Since the parents and Lamptey Mills are going scot-free, it is good to know that the Ghana Education Service (GES) has promised to bare its teeth and deal with school proprietors who did what Lamptey Mills. The GES should do more than bare its teeth. It should bite. The Education Act and the teacher’s code of conduct exist to regulate the conduct of teachers and education managers/administrators in schools. But are these regulations enforced? This is one of the questions that must ache our hearts and minds day and night. The abuse of children by their teachers is one of the issues that must keep all parents awake at night. If we as parents should pay school fees just so teachers and administrators can have their way with our kids and appease them with houses (at supposed lintel level) then we might as well congratulate every pedophile with an award and get the symphony orchestra together so they can compose a ballad in the offender’s name.
Number 8(c) of the teachers code of conduct states that “Any teacher who has carnal knowledge of any female or male pupil/student of any age, with or without his or her consent shall be guilty of professional misconduct”…which attracts a punishment ranging from reduction in rank to dismissal. As precise as the teacher’s code of conduct may seem in preferring appropriate departmental sanctions against offenders its coverage is highly limited to public school teachers. In the case of private schools, withdrawal of operational license of a private school is one of several options available to the GES. Section 25(1) of the Education Act, 2008 (Act 778) mandates the Minister of Education, (upon the advice of the district assembly or the national accreditation board) to withdraw the license of a private school if the operations of the school is detrimental to the moral welfare of pupils attending the school. This is what should happen to Lamptey Mills.
As a matter of urgency the government and people of Ghana should raise their voices and collect the national award conferred on Lamptey Mills as a matter of principle. National awards are for those whom deserve them. Lamptey Mills does not deserve the medal. We should not set up any committee to look into this matter. We want our medal (in mint condition) back!
This argument about what would have happened to the girl if Lamptey Mills had been jailed should not be entertained. After all are we sympathetic to the father who rapes his own daughter with the excuse that we don’t know what would happen to the girl without her father? Are we condoning an obvious illegality because of the reason of wealth? Why don’t we let pedophiles and those who commit incest off the hook?
We are going to spend millions branding Ghana (rightly so and good luck). There is no better brand for us than the people who live in this country of our birth. Let’s take this Lamptey Mills scandal to show to ourselves and everyone else that we care about our own people and that we will stand up and uphold freedom and justice. Let us show our kids a new dawn, promise them a new day, brighter and clearer. We will heed to the call of the national anthem to resist the oppressors rule. Lamptey Mills today is the oppressor. He, together with all those who offend our laws, especially those that are meant to protect our kids, must be made examples of.
Written by Abena Obi