The International Network of Religious Leaders Living With or Personally Affected by HIV/AIDS (INERELA+) Ghana on Wednesday commissioned a “Champion Women’s Group” to assist victims of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
The group commissioned at Bukom, a suburb of Accra, will be trained as Para Legals to act as intermediaries between local victims of GBV and law enforcement agencies and also assist victims to report issues of violence to the appropriate authorities.
Mrs Mercy Acquah-Hayford, Country Coordinator of INERELA, said the initiative formed part of the Organization’s objective to empower women who had been violated to report their abusers.
She informed that when empowered, women would become agents of change as they helped in eliminating stigma and discrimination against GBV victims and promote gender justice and human rights within their congregations and communities.
She said the campaign to end violence against women was a three-year project being supported by the INERELA Secretariat in South Africa, and funded by the United Nations (UN) Women Trust Fund.
Mrs Acquah-Hayford said the campaign would also be rolled out in three other communities; James Town, Chorkor and Nima, where GBV is common.
She expressed concern about the numerous cases of domestic violence at Bukom, and hoped that the Champion Women would be able to build the capacities of victims to report their predicaments.
“People can’t report because of fear of stigmatization as well as possible physical attack by some family members. The Champion Women, who are survivors of gender-based violence are going to be trained to help victims to report their cases,” she said.
Mrs Acquah-Hayford said the survivors had been trained in detergent and soap-making skills to enhance their livelihood and also train other members of the community to acquire those life enhancing skills.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Jones Blantari, Board Chairman of INERELA+ Ghana, said the targeted project implementation areas had high prevalence of domestic violence and women in the community would be sensitized on their rights.
“So we want to educate them about their rights as individuals and the need to report issues of domestic violence to the police to help enforce law and order,” he said.
Gender-Based violence refers to harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norm which is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue.
It is estimated that one in three women will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime, during displacement and times of crisis, the threat of GBV significantly increases for women and girls.
Forms of Gender-based violence include sexual, physical, mental and economic harm inflicted in public or in private.
It also includes threats of violence, coercion and manipulation. This can take many forms such as intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation.
The consequences of gender-based violence are devastating and can have life-long repercussions for survivors and even lead to death.