I watched the horrific video on Ghanaweb and cringed. I couldn't control my emotions. It was shocking and surreal; a young girl in Tamale held by her hands and legs and being lashed mercilessly with a bullwhip. Her sin? Allegedly disobeying laid down family regulations by coming home late.
And, the perpetrators of this dastardly crime were her own brothers, who acting on explicit instructions from their father, inflicted as much pain as they could muster on their frightened sibling, ostensibly to teach her a lesson.
But what subsequently ensued was human rights violation, gender abuse specifically, of the worse and ugliest kind. Her right to protection from cruelty was blatantly violated.
The victim's oppressors clearly enjoyed humiliating their sister as she writhed in pain from the vicious lashes and repeatedly begged for mercy. What would prompt a family to visit such cruelty on a member is the most troubling aspect of the entire episode.
I guess a message was ultimately sent and the family's goal, illegal as it was, of instilling discipline into an alleged erratic and wayward young lady was accomplished, but at the cost of huge embarrassment to the family.
The whole ghastly scene, as it unfolded, reminded me of the brutal early days of the Taliban when it publicly caned violators of its strict Islamic laws.
It was at the same time, a throw-back to a bygone era in Ghana when corporal punishment was utilized to discipline supposedly disobedient children. But the world has changed remarkably over the years, and inflicting physical pain on children is frowned upon and in modern societies could amount to breaking the law
Like thousands who have seen the disturbing video, I was at once filled with anger and frustration. Angry that a modern family would choose such an outdated, dehumanizing and barbaric method of discipline when other less severe avenues could have been employed, and I am frustrated that the family in question would not face the full rigors of the law. It gets away only to commit the same crime again.
Of course, don't get me wrong; families reserve the right to discipline their children as they see fit; it is their prerogative. But it is also worth bearing in mind that families are units of a larger society governed by laws.
Any breach of these laws is automatic invitation to authorities to step in and take charge. The Tamale family clearly broke the law and should be punished accordingly. Ours, after all, is a society of laws. Conformity is therefore required.
It is gratifying to hear authorities express disgust and anger at the shocking incident. But nothing will be achieved in the way of educating families to treat their children with respect and decency if no action is taken against this particular Tamale family.