The past week has seen students and the University of Ghana come under fire as Ghanaians home and abroad protest the harsh treatment meted out to an alleged thief caught on the University of Ghana campus. The melting pot of reactions elicited by this occurrence is quite interesting. Are Ghanaians outraged because mob justice was meted out, or are they disturbed that a woman was caught as a thief and hence treated that way? Or are they outraged at the abuse of the fundamental human rights of the victim?
The early hours of Wednesday 30th March saw some students of the Mensah Sarbah Hall Annex B sexually abuse and manhandle Amina, a peddler of ladies slippers who was apprehended for stealing a laptop and three cell phones, crimes to which she duly confessed. A great hue and cry has been raised across the country as Ghanaians cry for the blood of the perpetuators of this heinous “crime” with a section of the populace lauding the student body for not as it were, sparing this alleged thief. The general sentiment being; imagine your parents having broken their backs to provide that laptop only to have this lady make away with it.
The varying reaction to this commonplace occurrence gives glimpse into the psyche of the Ghanaian society. In a country in transition from “old- fashioned” chivalry to modern post-Beijing gender equality, it is unheard of that a woman would steal, much less be caught red handed. Most mornings in Ghana, a thief is found either dead or dying as a result of mob justice. Recently on the university campus, a young man suspected of stealing a cell phone was stripped naked and beaten in a most humiliating manner with people taking turns to slap him on the buttocks. People were disgusted, yes, but such a widespread reaction was not elicited. Life went on. As an observer candidly put it, “this is gender equality, what a man can do, a woman can do.”
How is it possible that people are all of a sudden denouncing this act as an abuse of human rights when in their closets will not hesitate to slap a male –thief? How are Ghanaians so hungry for the blood of the male students who abused Amina, when they have stood by at one time to watch a thief being beaten within an inch of his life, or have felt the call of the wild when the chorus of “ejul> ei”( thief!) is raised? Truth be told, mob justice is as cancer to our society but in our haste to condemn, we should be careful to do so objectively. As a songstress succinctly put it, let he who is without sin be the first to cast the stone.