By Anthony Apubeo, GNA
Bolgatanga, Aug 20, GNA – Stakeholders at a forum in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region have called for a collaborative and holistic approach to end gender-based violence.
They said gender-based violence particularly domestic abuses against women were still prevalent in many communities especially in the rural areas and there was the urgent need for synergy between state institutions, Civil Society Organisations and community leaders to tackle the phenomenon.
The forum was organised by the Widows and Orphans Movement (WOM), a gender empowerment advocacy organization, with funding support from Action Aid Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation, to give women the opportunity to share their experiences with mandated state institutions in an effort to find solutions to them.
Ms Fati Abigail Abdulai, the Executive Director, WOM, explained that the event was to create a platform for the women who were mostly victims of domestic violence to interact with each other and human rights state institutions such as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) and Department of Social Welfare.
It was meant to create awareness of the women about the existence of such institutions and how they could contact them whenever they were being abused, she said.
It would further contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals particularly goal five, which is on gender equality and women empowerment and eventually promote inclusive sustainable national development.
The women’s groups were drawn from the Talensi and Nabdam Districts in the region.
Mr Edmond Alagpulinsa, the Regional Principal Investigator, CHRAJ, said with domestic violence and gender based abuses, women particularly widows were the most vulnerable “about 90 percent of gender-based violence cases reported to CHRAJ in the region are against women”, he added.
He said people were attached to their socio-cultural belief systems and attributed it to lack of education and sensitisation and therefore called for effective partnership among major stakeholders to address the canker.
Mr Gabriel Azagsa, the Nabdam District Officer, Department of Social Welfare, said the most worrying issue in some communities of the district was high teenage pregnancy and added that most of the time the men involved could not marry the girls due to cultural barriers.
He said the department was currently handling 15 of such cases particularly girls who were under the age of 18 years.
Police Inspector Godfrey Quaye, the Regional Station Officer of DOVVSU, Ghana Police Service, who schooled them on the Domestic Violence Act of 2007, Act 732, said defilement, rape as well as physical abuses were cases that were frequently reported.
He demystified the perception held by many people that the police would break their families even more if such cases were reported and said officials at the office were trained to offer guidance and counseling to parties who had misunderstanding.
He said there were no charges involved in reporting cases to the office for redress and encouraged victims of abuse to report to DOVVSU offices for solutions.
WOM, with support from Action Aid Ghana has over the years, worked in the Upper East Region to promote gender equality, fight dehumanising cultural practices against women such as widowhood rites and domestic violence among others.