“Dude…I have to go get duck-faced this afternoon.’
“Dude, are you serious?”
“Yeah man. It’s that time of year.”
“I guess that means it’s almost time for me to get duck-lipped too.”
“Well, don’t let me know how it does. I hate that thing man. It’s so – weird.”
“Hahaha!! Alright. Talk to you later.”
That’s a conversation my sister and I used to have every year when it was time for our annual pap smear. We call it getting “duck-faced” or “duck-lipped” because of the cold metal apparatus that the OB/GYN inserts into the vaginal opening in order to get a swap. It literally looks like the bill of a mallard duck. As much as we kvetch and complain about having our insides probed and prodded, we understand that getting an annual exam is an important part of monitoring our health as women. We live by the motto that prevention is better than cure. Unquestionably, prevention saves you a lot of money, and my sister and I are unabashedly frugal.
As citizens and residents of the United States of America, we also have come to understand that we are very fortunate to enjoy the healthcare options available to us at this stage in our lives. I never heard about pap smears or vaginal exams as a teenager growing up in Ghana. I was never taken to a doctor for any sort of annual exam, save for that one time I nearly died from malaria. The one time I read about breast examinations was when I picked up a Cosmo magazine from the desk of a friend who had access to foreign magazines in those days. I grew up woefully unaware about the need to care watch over those parts of my body: the budding breasts that men stared at and this vagina that a baby would one day be expected to be delivered from.
What I did grow up with was a healthy dose of shame. Shame plays a major role in every facet of Ghanaian society.
Heh! You failed your exams! Oh shame!
Oh don’t mind that foolish boy. I know he stole my KK Kabobo cassette tape. He can’t even look at my face because he is ashamed!
You see that small girl walking? She’s trying to hide her pregnancy. 33n kraa, I’m sure she is ashamed.
With a population obsessed with and fed such high dosages of shame, the only logical step would be to do as much possible to cover the stain of your offences. I imagine that this is why this quack doctor in Ghana was able to coerce hundreds of victims into the act of “consensual rape”, if such a thing even exists.
What on earth are you talking about, Malaka, you ask. What sort of foolishness is “consensual rape??”
Well, in early October a friend of mine inboxed me a link and asked me to watch it. Being warned that it contained footage of a “doctor” who was raping his patients, it took me well over a month to gather the stones to view it. I’m irrationally sensitive when it comes to sexual violence against women and children. I lied to her, telling her that I had seen it and it was indeed sick. But it wasn’t until last week when I saw with my own eyes how disgustingly heartless Dr. Joshua Drah actually is. If you care to have your stomach turned, you can watch his sadism in action by clicking this link:
His victims are young women who look to be in their early to mid-twenties. It is estimated that he has performed countless thousands of illegal abortions in the 10 years his clinic has been in operation. Before any medical procedure is performed, the patient is required to pay a fee of GhC50 – 100 ($26 – 52) upfront. Once inside a dark and dingy room at the rear of this clinic, ‘Dr’ Drah begins his examination of the patient. He never has any other medical staff assisting him. Soon and quite suddenly, the girls go from patients to victims.
Explaining that their “things” are too tight for the fetus to come through, and that the only way to open it up would be to have sex with them. Instinctively, the girls know that this can’t be right and object. One girl wept, shouting “no, no!”. Not so easily dissuaded, Drah shames her into submission, asking her if it’s not the same sexual act that led to her unwanted pregnancy anyway? What would be the difference? He mutters something about a “membrane” and an “opening” and mere seconds later he is penetrating her – without protection, might I add. I nauseously watched him empty his semen into one of his victims before pulling up a stool, spreading her legs, and yanking a fetus out with some unsterilized metal object that was sitting in a plastic bucket on the floor next to him.
No one really knows how many of his victims have died from complications following his botched operations. My heart aches for these young women who have been so utterly degraded. I can only imagine how frightened they must have felt: going in for a procedure that is already deemed a sin but seeing it as the only course to preserve your honor, only to be violated even further. For some, this will have been the first medical procedure they have ever had. For others yet still, it will have been the last, as death waits for them on the other end of Drah’s forceps. None of them could have imagined what they would face that day.
My BFFFL Nana Darkoa will be doing a write up on Dr. Drah and the system that allowed him to flourish for so long. There are many issues at play, which she will discuss in great detail. The two that anger me the most are the lack of education and the abundance of shame. If Ghana is to achieve any sort of prominence in the new century, we would do well to experience more of one and less of the other.
Hopefully, this will be a lesson for all young women in the country. The title of doctor, lawyer, officer, or whatever does not give another human being the right to violate you in any regard. Run, scream, make noise, tell someone! You are not responsible for the burden of blame.
Side note: Ghana reporters. The music. Really? We’re not watching a concert. We’re witnessing a crime! Yesu…