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Opinions of Friday, 28 September 2012

Columnist: Derby, C. Nana

Anas Arameyaw, Please Don't Victimize the Women

C. Nana Derby

Compelled by a demonstration of carelessness and disregard for the potential of long-term psychological impact, among others, of the broadcast of uncensored videos and programs on a cross-section of the Ghanaian population, I am registering my protest against the ace Ghanaian investigative journalist, Anas Arameyaw Anas, for the content of his recently telecast program that showed the activities of a quack doctor’s abortion theater. Inarguably, Anas is not the first Ghanaian journalist or presenter to ignore the dignity of the very people he risks his life to protect. This lack of civility established in the broadcast in question intersected his enthusiasm to expose Ghana’s enemies of progress, consequently jeopardizing the women in so many ways. It is my conviction that this journalist is not ignorant of the conceivable jeopardy his actions posed to the women; after all, most of his fans don’t even know who he is, and I would not be surprised to learn that his partner, if he has one, is as ignorant as all of us of his true identity. So, why did Tiger, or Anas, fail to protect the identities of the women especially given that they were not the targeted criminal?

Of course it is not my intention to argue that Arameyaw’s revelation of the quack doctor’s theater has no merits. By all means, we owe this investigative journalist enormous gratitude for the lengths he and his crew had to go to have “the sexy lord of abortion” behind bars, at least for now. It is nightmarish, nevertheless, to consider the content of the broadcast part of which has been made available on several websites. And it was equally disgusting to note that he tried interviewing the victims soon after the broadcast.

Since watching the video, I have pondered incessantly the possible reasons for the producer’s actions and continue to wonder why he did not accord the women – the victims of the doctors’ criminal conducts – the same protective shield that he has bequeathed himself, i.e. the strong fortress he so cautiously guards himself with. What were the essence of the content, so graphical, and the nudity of the women, whose faces were not in any way blackened out or blurred, in the broadcast? By this inaction, Mr. Anas, you heightened their vulnerability and thus victimized them yourself, but why? They were not supposed to be part of the people you were going after. Elsewhere, this unethical broadcast of the naked videos of women being assaulted prior to abortion would constitute a subject of investigation by law enforcement officers, just as the potential of pedophilia. Certainly, not all of those could be consensual if they were below the age of majority

My standpoint that Anas victimized the women originates in how the content of his video exacerbated the psychological trauma the women were probably facing having been exploited by the quack doctor. Going by public opinion and in all fairness to Anas (and certainly not being fair to the women), I could categorize the cause of this type of women’s victimization into two, namely the personal and the public, where I do not restrict the personal category to their individual decisions with respect to the choice of doctor, etc, but also place under this category, other individual experiences that might have culminated in the decisions to terminate their pregnancies. How did the young women, some teenagers and probably minors, become pregnant?

Under the category of public victimization, I would place Anas’ role in the processes of the women’s victimization, i.e. stigmatization, both short- and long-term. As one of the victims declared in the interview with Anas, she would live with the guilt the rest of her life. Part of that guilt emanates from her personal actions, which easily qualify under the type of victimization earlier established. The bulk of it, however, is societal stigmatization, thanks to Anas! While I commend him for the capture of Drah and the end to the risk young women have been facing through his actions, I fault Anas for the psychological trauma – the public victimization – that the women could be suffering having seen themselves, in their birthday suits, and being “raped” by that goat on public television!

The “decisions” to sleep with Drah would perhaps be termed illegitimate in the court of law given his deceptive conduct and the possibility of fear they endured prior to the visitation, but many of Anas’ audience could be judgmental rather than appreciative of these unfortunate circumstances. Our traditions and several others do not trivialize teenage pregnancies, and in our context, that unmarried, not-so-independent woman who finds herself pregnant, can also be rest assured of the kind of chastisement and stigmatization we accord the pregnant teenager. If a pre-university student, she may be dismissed with extremely limited chances of ever stepping a foot in the classroom again, but aborting the babies would not be permissible either. That certainly is a catch-22 for many of those women! Meanwhile, male culprits responsible for such unwanted pregnancies may never be reprimanded, even if we get to know them. Imagine that male being the sole breadwinner of the household!

We should also not lose sight of the fact that Anas’ broadcast has the potential of sowing some seeds of discord and creating enmity for some of the affected victims and their relations. I emphatically do not condone all of their actions, but how do you expect them to be treated by their partners and other family members knowing that they compromised their dignity and health having had unprotected sex with that sex maniac? Remember, we are not particularly tolerant of unfortunate members of our communities who suffer some kinds of disabilities, STIs included.

The above constitute some of the reasons Anas should have protected the identities of the women. Unfortunately, his actions did not even stop there. It was extremely painful to read that his team followed one of the girls to interview her; only days after the video went public. Instantly he re-traumatized the victim, if he cares to know. I respect Anas’ expertise and enthusiasm for what he does, but what was he thinking? Here was a woman who saw herself naked – on public television – engaged in the unthinkable with the very obnoxious quack doctor who victimized her! As she continues struggling with the shame and stigma compounded by that broadcast, there comes the producer, the source of her predicament, with a plethora of personal questions, and for what reasons? Psychologists would agree with me that the women needed their space and peace to recover, unless of course harming the women was Anas’s goal!

My advice to you, Mr. Anas, is to do unto others as you would like them do unto you. Why do you suffer the discomfort of concealing your identity but believe it is okay to expose the nakedness of women who might have been driven by some unfavorable sociocultural conditions to accept the consequences and the psychological pain of terminating a pregnancy? In a different part of the world, you will be answering questions in some courts of law … no, not for the prosecution of Drah! You will be defending yourself.

Continue doing good! Continue exposing the rot in the motherland and elsewhere. I wish you good luck and divine protection as you advance in your investigative assignments. But please, don’t, in your attempts to score points, jeopardize the lives of innocent women and children. As I conclude this piece, here are a few things you could do:

• remind yourself that some people have lost their lives at the hands of Christian anti-abortion extremists;

• apologize to the women whose nudity you have paraded to the whole world;

• provide some kind of compensation, some form of therapeutic counseling to help reintegrate them into their societies, and to help curb the long term effects of your actions on their self esteem – and remember, this is not in regards to the pursuit and capture of Drah, which I applaud; and

• let’s reorient ourselves about contemporary journalism particularly given the power of today’s advanced technology.