August 2, 2007
The morning newsroom editorial meetings at Skyy are vigorously contested debates of what is relevant and timely today in Takoradi. Stories range from political infighting in Parliament, to the hoarding of oil reserves in advance of an announced price increase to whether one should spit after tooth brushing or leave the paste within. The mundane or the sublime, you choose.
One story brought forward for vetting today catches everyone’s attention. A woman in a nearby village has been brutally beaten and raped. Her attacker is a man she knows. The police have been called. An investigation is underway. The attacker is on the run. The family wants him brought to justice and is willing to talk on camera to make the public plea.
Kweku, a reporter and newsreader at Skyy, as well as my flat mate, has received the information and will follow up. I accompany him to give assistance. We take a taxi to the workplace of a friend of the family and source of our information. We introduce ourselves and hear the story from him. He calls ahead and gets permission from the family for our visit to the woman’s home.
We drive out of the city to a suburb of Sekondi, a bustling little village that looks no different than any other part of the city. Inside a small cinderblock and tin roof structure we meet Eva and her family. She has bruises on her neck from being strangled. Her chin, lips and hands are scarred from bite-marks. Her right eye is bloodshot. She is recently discharged from the hospital, but it is not known if a rape kit has been taken. Kweku tells me Ghana doesn’t have such things.
Eva tells her story on camera, her face withheld to protect her identity. The stigma attached to a rape victim in Ghana, like most of the world, will affect her relationships within the community. Her voice is weak. She speaks in Twi. She describes her ordeal, and her hands depict the struggle. She tells us what occurred so that her attacker can be punished and so that others can escape her fate.
I later learn that she was returning home from work and was convinced by a male friend to enter an apartment. There, she was raped. Her story is like the story of many women who have suffered the same fate. Trusting someone she knew, only to be brutalized.
Eva describes the events as her family, sitting in the room with us, listens. Eva’s father sits across from her, behind the camera, with a stern look on his face. The family friend sits beside her, looking off into the distance.
When Eva finishes, we turn to her father and interview him. We begin in broken English, but quickly return to Twi. He calls for the public to help find the man who attacked his daughter and bring him to justice. He feels deep pity for his daughter and wants the man caught.
We shoot some exterior shots, and then say our goodbyes. I shake Eva’s hand and look her in the eye. I say thank you, and she replies the same. I know I’ll probably never know the pain she feels. I hope that she knows that we will work to help her and others like her. We return to the station. Kweku and I capture the footage and write the script. It goes off to editing and I go home.