There she was, naked as the day she entered the world, a sensual image for men, a divisive symbol for the bodily autonomy debate. She knelt in the nude as her little boy stared.
Unsurprisingly, criticisms ensued, so much so that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection felt the need to add their voice to the bashing public. Were her actions prudent? Certainly not! Does she deserve all the controversy? I dare say that she even expected it. But was the arrest and involvement of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) warranted? After thanking her lawyer, Oscar Blackgold for a good job done, she is finally out and about, twerking her derriere to the chagrin of her haters.
The Ghanaian Police are trained to conduct arrests based on crimes they suspect have been committed. This means that they must be able to point to a criminal offence that can be found on the statute books. It would be absolutely unprofessional for a policeman to conduct an arrest simply because of public outrage. Indeed, public opinion might be a necessary impetus in certain cases but should not be the foundation for action.
It has been said that posing without clothes is contrary to public morality; The truth is that Twitter is a public platform and any post can be viewed by anyone. Nevertheless, immorality does not necessarily mean criminality. It is an undeniable fact that adultery, an obviously immoral behavior occurs on the regular in our Motherland. This does not, however, give the police ample reason to round up men who are “playing away”. The obvious defence of every man caught red-handed would be that there is no law which says a man cannot cheat on his wife. Therefore, merely saying that the act of Akuapem Polo went against public morality does not suffice to warrant her arrest.
I recently asked a policeman, a very good friend of mine, what crime he thought she could be charged with. Without any hesitation, he dropped the two words that were made popular in the Wisa case – Indecent Exposure. I found this very interesting. At least it could be found in the Criminal Offenses Act, 1960 (Act 29). Particular Section 296(y) reads as follows:
A person commits a criminal offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding ten penalty units who… willfully and indecently exposes the body of that person in a public place or in the public’s view, or exposes the body of that person in a place with intent to insult any other person
It was in the armpit of this law that Wisa was caught. It was because of this law that he had to pay GH₵8,400 as a fine. Nobody expected Wisa to be found not guilty of the offence. His lawyer cleverly argued that it was a dildo but no one was shocked that the judge was not buying that. However, noteworthy is the fact that the case hinged on whether the “person” of Wisa was exposed. “Person” here means penis. In Akuapem Polo’s case it would mean, “vagina”. Yes, I said it. The fact that she was clearly naked and you know for a fact that her genitals were uncovered does not mean that you saw her “person”.
Yes, she willfully posed naked. Yes, that is in and of itself indecent. Yes, she posed in the public’s view. Nonetheless, the fact that her vagina could not be seen by the public means that no offence was committed. The only person who saw it was the unfortunate or fortunate little boy who most likely did not take it as an insult.
In a word, Oscar Blackgold probably told the police that they had nothing to charge her with. Until they did, he and his client could walk out of the CID headquarters gallantly. It was a waste of time.