Abuse is a body of work that tackles the subject of violence against women and girls.
Our society has witnessed the high incidence of how children are abused and defiled mostly by close relations and associations of their parents among others According to the 2017 Criminal Investigations Department Annual Crime Statistics, 1630 cases of sexual abuse of children were reported in 2015. In 2016, it is said that, 1,341 were reported while and 1,685 were reported in 2017. This painting was inspired by a story of a headmaster who abused a student and gave her Ghc5 afterwards. This painting presents to the viewer an abstract picture of what the headmaster saw. Whiles most people see a student; he possibly saw what he could afford with petty cash. It shows how he objectified her as an affordable commodity. Though this piece connotes sexual abuse, it highlights the mediums through which acts of abuse are performed primarily through exploitation, coercion, manipulation, fear. Often, these unassuming men and women who physically and sexually abuse children of their relatives, friends among others lure these children with things such as confectionery and money to ‘‘hush’’ them up. They exploit young children who are naturally trusting and naïve to the acts they are subjected to. Then to keep them silent, they buy them presents or give them money and threaten them with death should they reveal the incident to anyone.
This painting shows a sad looking girl in uniform whose innocence has been violated by an adult she trusted. In the background, it shows the old 5 cedi note, the amount her abuser felt she was worth for which she became subject to exploitation. Newspaper headlines are depicted to highlight the realities. The actual girl is nestled in the piece, her identity disclosed from the spotlight to protect her from the prowling eyes of the world.
Several relationships and marriages have been marred by domestic violence in our society. Most at times, this has stemmed from ‘‘subtle’’ things people tend to overlook; disrespect, verbal abuse, manipulation, gaslighting among others which subsequently turns into physical abuse and other forms violence. Some perpetrators also use various forms of abuse to keep their partners in the shadows. This is clearly seen in how the painting is presented where Serwaa is nestled within Nii; thus, he prevents her from doing certain things; pursuing a high-profile career as well as any business ventures. He downplays her intelligence and present various loopholes in any business proposals she brings up.
This piece on domestic violence, captures an image of what people call a perfect couple. Nii Okine and Serwaa’s wedding was indeed a lavish one and remained the talk of town for several weeks. Three months down the line, the euphoria of getting married between the couple had waned. The quarrels, disrespect and disagreement were at unprecedented levels and not long after, Nii Okine starts to abuse Serwaa physically and in other derogatory ways. There have been many days when Serwaa have had to cover her wounds and bruises with lies and excuses. To the world, and envy of many friends the Okines love story is more than a fairy tale, yet away from the spotlight, Serwaa spends her nights nursing her wounds with her pillow drenched in tears. She stays because she loves him and with the hope that one day, Nii will become the man she once knew.
2017 and 2018 marked the emergence of the ‘‘Me Too Movement’’ where high profile personalities especially in the movie industry predominantly in Europe and the United States were accused by several women including celebrities of abuse and sexual harassment for the opportunity to be cast for various roles among others. It saw many people join in the fight against sexual abuse and harassment. Over the years, other high-profile personalities across various sects have been charged with abuse, rape, sexual harassment, molestation among others with some having served sentences.
This painting captures that reality of many girls living amongst us today. It was inspired by the story of a Ghanaian pastor who molested two girls. For several years, the girls suffered in silence until they gathered the courage to speak up when they grew older. Mostly, many of these victims’ fear to confide in third parties especially when their abusers are influential people. Sadly, the people they can confide in refuse to believe their stories. In our setting, people are cautioned to desist from spreading bad news about prominent people especially religious leaders. They are seen to be righteous and men of God as such, they cannot engage in immorality. Therefore, many victims live in silence and burdened by the trauma. This painting serves as a medium to urge them to speak up.
Increased unemployment rates, poverty, disability among other factors have contributed largely to the high incidence of begging for alms, streetism, social vices and many other issues, thereby leading to an increase in abuse in various forms. It is important that government and other stakeholders such as various NGOs help in the fight to combat abuse by alleviating such occurrences through various intervention programs for such people.
In the streets (Part 1), the protagonist in the painting is a hawker who started out as a beggar with her mother. Later, a law was enforced to criminalise the activities of beggars, thus, she had to find a job to make ends meet. This led her to find a means of livelihood as a head porter. At night, she slept at lorry stations which exposed her to many perils. She was raped continually by men yet she remained silent as she had no idea how the laws could work in her favour. In the background, a market scene is depicted and also show three men lurking at a distance, waiting till evening to rape her. She bears all these in silence.
Often times, when social issues aforementioned in The Streets Part 1 are not tackled with caution, it raises more concern resulting in teenage and unwanted pregnancies, prostitution, alcoholism, trading in narcotics, murder, armed robbery among others.
In the streets (Part 2), the protagonist of the painting is the older version of the hawker/porter in part one. She has saved up enough money and is attending the university. Due to financial constraints in funding her education as well as taking care of a child she conceived as a result of rape, she works as a prostitute at night and also receives support from a rich, elderly man popularly known as sugar daddy who abuses her constantly. Set in a popular suburb in Accra, she is scene standing at a vantage point at night to attract the attention of passers-by in cars. The cheques also signify the monetary value she seeks to gain from offering her services. Now as a society, the question herein is: What can we do to cause a chain reaction of change?
Marriage is an important stage in African societies and especially for women, one’s marital status most at times determines the level of respect and prominence she is accorded. In most African settings, women in their mid to late twenties and early thirties begin to feel the subtle to intensified pressure of their family and relatives to settle down. In recent times, many people have entered into the institution of marriage with the display of pomp and pageantry being the main focus rather than the next phase of the marriage. While some are marrying for love, others are getting married to escape the stereotypes associated especially with single women and also other societal pressures. Due to this ‘‘rush’’, the emergence of domestic and emotional abuse has been on the rise.
This painting was inspired by the countless stories of domestic and emotional abuse amongst wealthy couples. It shows a married woman at the centre of the painting surrounded by memories of her life as well as symbols that signify her wealth. She is adorned with the finest of jewellery and clothed in silk. Yet, her face bears a silent grief. In the background, several articles and headlines are incorporated to show these aspects people face.
The striking aspect of this piece is the contrasting colours of gold and red used. The gold depicts her wealth, glamour and status while the red signifies the tears, hurt, pain and abuse which is masked by the dominance of the luxury and lifestyle she is surrounded by. Those who come close to this work symbolically get to know more about her life as well beyond the gold they see from afar. This piece of work tends to explore the ‘‘perfect picture’’ syndrome people are made to believe marriage is all about which they might envy. They tend to forget that the grass may not be always be greener on the other side and fail to see the sorrows these people bear behind the extravagance. Sometimes, not all that glitters, is gold; it may be blood masked with gold.
According to the 2015 UNICEF report, the countries with the highest rates of child marriage before age 18 are: Niger - 76%, Central African Republic- 68%, Chad - 68%, Bangladesh - 65%, Mali - 55%, Guinea - 52% and South Sudan- 52%. 21% of girls in Ghana are married before they are 18, but rates can be as high as 39% in Northern Ghana. Forced marriages in the Northern region of Ghana and other parts of the country is still prevalent. According to a Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service in 2011, about 27.4 % of young girls are forced into marriage either by their parents or guardians. Forced marriage is when a marriage takes place without the free consent of the individuals involved. Normally pressure and abuse are used to force one or both parties to marry against their will. Mostly the fundamental factor for child marriages is as a result of poverty. According to Wikipedia, United Nations views forced marriage as a form of human rights abuse since it violates the principle of the freedom and autonomy of individuals. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that a woman's right to choose a spouse and enter freely into marriage is central to her life and dignity and equality as a human being. In 2013, the first United Nations Human Rights Council resolution against child, early and forced marriages was adopted. It recognises them as involving violations of human rights which prevents individuals from living their lives free from all forms of violence and that has adverse consequences on the enjoyment of human rights etc. Forced marriages are a form of violence through emotional, mental or physical forms. "
Little Adoma stared at her reflection in the mirror. She looked pretty in her little white dress and her curly hair. Auntie Adobea, her mother had told her a few weeks before that she will be the flower girl at one of her big cousin’s wedding. She was happy. Finally, she will be a flower girl. She couldn’t wait to share the news with her best friends Maame and Naa. Her dreams were filled with her wearing a little tiara and throwing confetti while walking towards the aisle, throwing confetti all over. Soon, the day arrived and soon Auntie Adobea dressed up her only daughter. While little Adobea was oblivious to the truth, Auntie Adobea’s eyes sorrow. Marrying off her young daughter was not what she wished for but there was no other option. Agya Ntow and Auntie Adobea escorted Adoma to the supposed venue of her big cousin’s wedding. Agya Ntow’s face held a deep remorse but that was the only way to save himself from disgrace at the hands of Mr. Banahene; giving his 10-year-old daughter out for marriage a 47-year-old man was the only way. Little Adoma smiled at a few familiar faces who forced smiles back at her. Her parents led her to a pot-bellied man sitting at the front of the church. A man performed a short ceremony and proclaimed Mr. Banahene and Adoma husband and wife in the presence of a few witnesses whom were family. As her parents bid her goodbye, she broke out in tears. For little Adoma, her future had been sold to a wicked and evil man and her life will never remain the same again.
When most people think of child marriage, they simply think of a grown man marrying a little girl. Beyond that, people don’t seem to question who the guests were and why they approved of such a ceremony. In this painting, the viewers (you) are a part of wedding guests observing her marriage. Wedding Guests begs the question: Will you watch this happen to her or will you take a stand against child marriage and the abuse many of these little girls go through?
The increased rate of premarital sex has led to a high rate of teenage and unwanted pregnancies. According to Guttmacher Institute, as of 1985, Ghanaian law permits abortion in cases of rape, incest or the “defilement of a female idiot;” if the life or health of the woman is in danger; or if there is risk of foetal abnormality. To ensure that legal abortions are provided safely, the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health established protocols for the provision of safe abortion services. These guidelines, adopted in 2006, outline the components of comprehensive abortion care and call for expanding the base of health providers to perform first-trimester procedures. Ghana’s liberal law notwithstanding, as of 2007 a mere 3% of pregnant women and only 6% of those seeking an abortion were aware of the legal status of abortion. Almost half (45%) of abortions in Ghana remain unsafe. These staggering statistics have risen over the years with more teenagers and young women falling in this bracket. People take all manner of self-induced drugs to abort pregnancies increasing mortality rates.
This painting was inspired by an article of a headmaster, who asked a student to terminate a pregnancy caused by him. In the background of the painting, the family of the girl is disheartened by the ordeal caused by a man they entrusted their daughter with. In the foreground we find sex education images, leading us to question whether or not the girl was fully educated in that regard. At other points, we have images of hospital forms and drugs taken upon pregnancy. This leads us to probe how she found out she was pregnant and if she actually attempted to terminate the pregnancy.
As indicated earlier, people especially children are mostly violated by relatives, close associates among others. Per some Muslim doctrines, the law allows for perpetrators of sexual abuse to be put to death when they are caught. Mostly, victims are afraid of the consequences that may arise should they report so they decide to keep quiet and suffer in silence.
When Lariba was six years old, she lost her parents. As custom demands, her uncle Alhaji Muntari took her under his wing. When she was eight years old, her uncle began to creep into her bed. He molested her until he passed when she was sixteen years old but she was still afraid to speak. Over the years, she had heard many relatives talk about incidences where some men had been put to death because they had been caught molesting children. She had been too afraid to speak for fear that she will cause his death. She hides her pain, preventing anyone from discovering her daily battles with shame, guilt and self-harm. There are many girls like Lariba in various communities who are suffering in silence, unable to speak up.