Close to 15,000 cases of violence against children are reported to law enforcement agencies every year, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said.
The UN agency, therefore, called on the justice sector actors to put in place mechanisms to create a protective environment for children in ways that increase access to justice in the country.
Mr Rafiq Khan, UNICEF Chief, Child Protection, made the call in a speech read on his behalf during the inauguration of the Child-Friendly and Gender-based Violence Court at Dormaa-Ahenkro in the Bono Region.
Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah inaugurated the Court, refurbished by UNICEF and equipped with child testifying and children rooms, playing rooms with books and toys to meet desirable standards.
Recent data, Mr Khan said showed over 38 per cent of girls aged between 15 and 19 years in the country reported having experienced at least one act of sexual violence.
A study by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, revealed that Ghana lost US$ 19 million (GHC73.5 million) as economic costs of violence against women and girls in 2019.
Out of this, Intimate Partner Violence accounts for about US$12.6 million, of which about 80 per cent is health-related. National estimates show that about US$18.7 million is spent annually on services and other expenditure responding to the fallout from SGBV, the UNICEF Chief indicated.
Further, a costing study conducted by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) in 2015 estimated that child abuse cost the Ghanaian economy between GHC926 million to GHC1.4 billion per year.
Therefore, the costs associated with violence are enormous and its prevention is more cost-effective to implement than taking remedial measures after the violence has occurred, Mr Khan stated.
He explained 18 of the 72 Circuit Courts in the country have now been made child and gender-responsive to women and children, while three Juvenile Courts had been improved remarkably to serve juveniles.
Mr Khan appealed to the government to allocate and release adequate funds to the Judicial Service for the implementation of Section 65 of the 1993 Courts Act, Act 459 to compensate official witnesses, including Doctors and other persons required to attend the cases involving women and children.
Survivors must not be asked to pay for the travel of Police and Doctors to and from the Courts, he added.
The establishment of the child-friendly Courts, Mr. Khan explained marked a significant milestone in the reform of justice for women and children in the locality.
It demonstrates the solid commitment of the Judiciary towards making justice accessible to the most vulnerable groups in our society, which we must applaud, he said and thanked the Denmark government for its commitment towards the establishment of the Courts.
Your support in this area is making a transformational difference in the lives of many girls, boys, and young women across Ghana, he said.