Ghana: The sexualization of the Victoria Hammah scandal

“…I told Rachel that I really understand politics…I will not quit politics until I make one million dollars. If you have money then you can control people”

Victoria Hammah
Victoria Hammah

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Those were the words of Ghana’s now sacked deputy Minister of Communications Victoria Hammah who was relieved of her duties in the NDC government last week when a tape was leaked of her gossiping about other female officials. In addition to revelations about Hammah’s motives for entering politics, she also insulted other women in the government.

The other women mentioned on the tape include Nana Oye Lithur, the Minister of Gender, and MP Benita Okity Duah, but she saved her worst criticisms for the deputy minister of gender, Rachel Appoh who she said was too “ugly” to be influential.

Hammah made her way into the political scene as the women’s organizer of National Union of Ghana Students. She later became a media personality hosting several talk shows on national television. The young 30-something was appointed earlier this year by President Mahama.

The scandal which has been dubbed Vikileaks bothers me on several levels. The way in which the media reported the story was overly sexualised and gender biased (granted Hammah really didn’t help at all). But photos of a woman’s ass and comments about Hammah’s hips and breasts had no place in this MyJoyOnline post. Everytime Hammah’s looks were mentioned between the lines were the insinuations that she must have slept her way to the job. They didn’t say it outright, but the hints were all there, loud and clear.

I disagree with media commentary that Hammah is in some way a disgrace to women.  She doesn’t represent all women. In her capacity as Deputy Minister she was there as an individual. If she has embarrassed anyone; it is the President who put her there, her family, and sadly herself. At most her words only confirm what we already know about politicians’ greed, and how often women in government rarely use their power to affirm other women.

That being said, President Mahama sure did fire her quickly. I mean not even a week passed between the tape’s publishing and her dismissal. So she is a gossip, and yes she wants to get rich in politics, who doesn’t? Maybe you can call her uncouth, abrasive, a busy-body, but does all this really call for her to be fired in such a haste? Shouldn’t there have been an investigation into the validity of the tape? How do we really really know that the tape is Hammah anyway? Could a public apology not been enough to salvage her job?

If she can be so quickly dismissed one has to wonder why she was appointed in the first place. Maybe being deputy minister of communications isn’t that big of a deal, maybe its the kind of post created to appease unimportant political cronies post an electoral win.

Author: Vickie Remoe

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