A project dubbed: “Agenda 55 Voluntary Peer Review (VPR) on Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV)” has been launched to create a platform that will promote accountability and connect citizens to the real issues of SGBV.
Under the project, each Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the five regions of the north, would take turns to subject themselves to peer review on performance towards eliminating harmful and discriminating practices within their jurisdictions and announce measures put in place to address them.
The project, which would end in 2024, is being implemented by Norsaac, a civil society organisation, and Oxfam in partnership with the Regional Coordinating Councils in the five regions in the north and their 55 MMDAs.
Mr Alhassan Mohammed Awal, Executive Director of Norsaac, speaking during the launch of the project in Tamale, said “The decision to cover all the 55 MMDAs in northern Ghana and to name the initiative as Agenda 55 Voluntary Peer Review is to have a reliable and self-motivating space for the MMDAs to prioritise interventions on SGBV.”
Mr Awal added that “It is expected to be the biggest platform in the country that provides platform for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and civil society organisations operating in the districts to consistently document and present true state of SGBV.”
Through the projects, annual reports are expected to be compiled on statuses of each MMDA, findings made public, and timelines agreed on to address areas of interest.
Statistics by the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service showed that as of August 2020, 31.9 per cent of Ghanaian women faced at least one form of domestic violence – physical, economic, psychological, social or sexual.
In 2020, DOVVSU reported 1,947 cases of defilement with more than 200 cases of defilement in the Central Region within 18 months.
The Participatory Development Associates’ child abuse tracker also reported 26 cases of child abuse in the second quarter of 2022, of which 22 cases were sexual abuse and 90 per cent of victims were girls.
While the Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732) Section 8 (3) stipulates that a victim of domestic violence, who is assisted by the Police to obtain medical treatment, is entitled to free medical treatment from the state, survivors of sexual violence in the country are still asked to pay for a medical report between GHc200.00 to GHc2,000.00, and this prevents many survivors from pursuing justice.
Mr Awal called on the partners to come together and stop the violence saying, “The Agenda 55 Voluntary Peer Review will require we have all of you fully committed to it as it will allow us to unearth social norms that have kept us in this “stucknews”. We should be bold to call out influential people in our communities, who are perpetuating these dreadful acts on society.”
Alhaji Abdulai Yaquob, Nanumba North Municipal Chief Executive, who is also Dean of MMDCEs in the Northern Region, said it was clear that cases of SGBV were under-reported in the country because most of the victims were unable to pay for medical reports.
He gave assurance that the MMDAs would be willing to pay for the medical reports of victims in the instances where victims were unable to pay to help in securing justice for them.
He said MMDAs would engage community members, opinion leaders and chiefs to sensitise them against covering up such crimes in the communities.
He expressed gratitude to Norsaac and partners for the project, saying addressing such issues in the communities would help in the development of the MMDAs.