The Healthy Cities for Adolescents (HCA) Project has called on the government to equip the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, to handle Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)cases amid COVID-19 outbreak.
This is because, numerous women and girls could be exposed to several forms of SGBV during times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, with no accessibility to protective support services due to increased focus on the pandemic.
According to a statement from the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana and the Regional Institute for Population Studies of the University of Ghana, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, women and girls’ need for protection services, including; prevention and mitigation of gender-based violence (GBV) and intimate partner violence (IPV)were likely to increase in periods of crisis.
“HCA-Ghana, therefore, requests that Social Welfare Offices at all districts be equipped to provide on the ground timely support for victims of SGBV and provide contact numbers for professional counseling and other support services.”
HCA-Ghana is an international project funded by ‘Fondation Botnar’ a philanthropic foundation based in Basel, Switzerland, with focus on promoting healthy living and nutrition among adolescents, optimal and innovative adolescent sexual and reproductive health information and services.
It also promotes retention of adolescents in school beyond the basic level and their general well-being in Ghana.
The statement also appealed to government to use the COVID-19 period to improve upon its database on vulnerable groups and ensure that, every vulnerable person, especially in communities currently under the partial lockdown benefitted from the support initiatives.
The HCA Project, believed that, with an improved database, other vulnerable groups such as street children, the homeless and adolescent youth could be catered for.
The statement encouraged young people and families to stay home and occupy themselves with creative activities such as drawing, storytelling, games, and learning new skills, while observing the safety measures.
HCA-Ghana and its partners also called for innovations that foster experiences of adolescents in improving their health in cities towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, end poverty, promote inclusive and equitable quality education; gender equality and strengthened partnerships respectively.