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Opinions of Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Columnist: Ebenezer Azamati

Rape, torture, and or misconduct: Is social media crusading-the cure?

Watching, liking, Sharing and openly condemning with long and short write ups greeted a viral video in which 7 guys were raping and attempting to rape a young girl over the weekend.

Since the video reared its ugly head, social media has been awash with a lot of women and gender activists who have cited thousand and one reasons for which rape must be condemned and the culprits reprimanded. The incident has also got the mainstream media talking and ranting as usual.

The focus of this piece, however, is on social media and its overnight activist. I am turning my attention to social media because this is not the first and last time the judges of the court of social media have and will preside over such issues without any judgment.

It is also important to concentrate on social media users in this piece because a majority of them chastise the mainstream media for diverting their attention from serious human right abuse cases, something they also do frequently.

No study has been conducted to determine the class or category of people who use social media in Ghana. Nonetheless, one would not be far from right by presuming that 90% of social media users in Ghana have acquired a little bit of education, and for that matter can be described as literates. Given that these people are literates, they have various means of tackling issues when they arise especially in this modern day and age.

I, in this instance am beginning to assume that one of such means through which these literates are tackling issues such as the Bantama rape case is taking to social media to proffer their condemnation of the act and the suspects and extend their sympathies to the victim and her family.

Much as this action by social media users in Ghana may draw people’s attention to the issue and also perhaps be a move in the right direction, I in particular do not believe that this is the best means available to social media users to help ensure that rape and other crimes are eradicated or reduced in our societies.

It is undisputed that a chunk of social media users are youth who have acquired education in sociology, gender studies, music, theatre arts, psychology and social work and are sitting home unemployed. In my candid view, these crimes are prevalent because we as youth have not been creative and innovative enough in terms of using our acquired degrees to help reduce them.

In those days, any village boy like me would remember what was locally known as concert party in Ghana. It was through this program that actors like Bob Santo, Abusua Panyin Judas, Kofi Adu alias Agyakoo, and many others short into the limelight. These programs were used to educate people about the spread of HIV AIDS and other diseases.

And certainly, these programs helped in creating awareness among ordinary Ghanaians and also greatly helped in reducing the rate at which people discriminated against HIV patients. What has prevented students of theatre arts from polishing concert party into an entirely new thing through which they can educate people on rape, lynching and other problems we are battling with as a society? There is a reason for which the above listed courses are categorized as social science courses.

I strongly believe that these academic programs were designed to aid in resolving the numerous challenges that confront human societies. We are very quick to blame people from pure science background for our underdevelopment, but frankly speaking we the people with social science background have in one way or the other not done any better than them.

Again, the inconsistency on the part of social media users in Ghana does not help in dealing with such incidents to the core. On countless occasions, such sensitive cases generate widespread public outrage on the very day of the event and the next day or 2 and subsequently divert their attention to different issues which are likely to be politics leaving the rape, lynching, robbery, and the other human right abuse cases to rot.

This attitude helps nobody at the end of the day because state officials who are in charge of these cases become reluctant in dealing with the suspects and even end up abandoning the cases once they realise nobody is talking about them anymore. Much as we want rape and other human right abuses to cease, we equally have the responsibility of ensuring that we remain consistent on these issues as they come and go.

It beholds on us as youth to respond to societal challenges practically other than always complaining, this time with Facebook, twitter, and the like. Coming up with groups aiming at tackling specific problems in the society and remaining focused is something we must all think of doing in order to overcome what we are nagging about daily on social media.

Sincerely, there is a lot more we can do to get our voices head, our problems solved and our societies fair to all men beyond social media. Young graduate on social media, advocacy against rape and impropriety goes beyond the keyboard and the touch pad. Our certificates require more than social media ranting.

Ebenezer Azamati

Atebenezer.ae@gmail.com