Editorial: Policemen must stop using state power to assault women
Sometime in July 2018, Ghanaians witnessed one of the most bizarre incidents in the country’s recent history, when a policeman, identified as Godzi Frederick Amanor, mercilessly beat a woman, Patience Osafo, in a banking hall at Shiashie, a suburb of Accra. According to the story, as narrated at the time, Madam Osafo had saved GH¢270 with Midland Savings and Loans Limited, but all her attempts to withdraw the money proved futile.
On that fateful day, she went to the bank and insisted that until her money was given back to her, she would not leave the banking hall. She allegedly started causing commotion in the bank hall. The bank officials, therefore, called Godzi Frederick Amanor, as a security man on duty, to escort the woman outside the banking hall.
The lady refused and this resulted in scuffle between the two. Unfortunately, the security man lost his temper and subjected the woman, who had her granddaughter strapped to her back, to severe pummeling. The video of the incident went viral on social media, forcing the then Inspector General of Police, David Asante Apeatu, to order the immediate arrest and detention of the policeman.
The rest of the story is now history, but looking at the public condemnation that met the action of the policeman, one would have expected that his colleagues in the Police Service would take a cue from the incident and avoid repeating it in future. Unfortunately, that has not happened, as another video has emerged on social media about a police officer slapping an elderly woman at an unnamed voter registration centre.
“If you want to show that you are a boss, I will also show you that I am a boss… If you will display arrogance, I will not let you in here,” the police officer was heard saying to the woman, amid responses from the latter, as translated by myjoyonline.com. But, like the Midland incident in 2018, the cop lost control over his temper and gave the woman a dirty slap.
The Chronicle is worried about the latest incident as well, because it tells a story that some of the police officers cannot properly control themselves when they are provoked. From the video that is going round, if the woman had not been restrained by the people who were at the scene, she would have also responded by assaulting the police officer.
Though the state may have monopoly over force, it does not mean that policemen and women can also go round and be assaulting people outside the remit of the law, just because they are in uniform.
Since the voice of the woman in the video is very low, we suspect she might have said something that got the officer annoyed. But, granted that this is exactly what happened, it does not give him the right to slap the woman. Because people stay in queues for a long a long time before it gets to their turn to register in the ongoing voter registration exercise, some of them, sometimes, become irritated, especially when people are by-passing the queue to get registered.
In situations like these, it is the duty of the policeman or woman on duty to calm down tempers, and also ensure that only those in the queue are registering. In so doing, the peace officer may come under verbal attacks, but that is the time for him or her to prove to the people that they are indeed peace officers.
The Chronicle does not know whether crisis management and public relations are part of the courses police personnel undergo during the period of their training, however, if these courses are not taught, then we suggest to the police administration to introduce them.
The Midland incident and the latest video are clear indications that some of the police personnel do not know how to handle difficult situations, and, therefore, think resorting to physical attacks is the antidote to the situation they are being confronted with – this, certainly, is not policing work.
Meanwhile The Chronicle calls on the IGP to investigate the current incident and punish the officer involved to serve as a deterrent to others.
If the woman who was slapped had succeeded in getting close to the assaulting officer, held his uniform, and it unfortunately got torn, that would have been used as the basis to get her arrested and charged for assaulting an officer in uniform. The assault on the lady would have completely been related to the background. We, as a state, need to therefore, nip the practice of police personnel assaulting the civilian population, without any legal justification, in the bud, because if the situation gets out of control, people would take the law into their own hands and start assaulting the men and women in the black uniform as a means of retaliation.
If a policeman can slap a woman in public without any sense of shame, then one can imagine what he is doing to his wife at home when he comes under the least provocation. It is high time some of the police stopped using the state power they are wielding to assault women.