The Persons with Disability Act 715 was passed in 2006 to uphold rights such as unrestricted access to public places and buildings, free healthcare, employment, education, and transportation.
Ghana signed the United Nations Convention on the Right of People with Disabilities in 2007 and ratified it in 2012. Nonetheless, persons with disabilities are continuously marginalized in the country.
The President of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations who doubles as Treasurer of the Commonwealth Disabled People Forum, Mrs. Mawunyo Yakor Dagbah, has urged government to put in place effective measures to protect persons with disabilities in the country.
This according to Mrs. Dagbah, women and girls with Disabilities are prone to violence than those without Disabilities. “Efforts to end violence against women and girls with disabilities appear to have been undermined by inadequate evidence and under-recognition globally,” She stressed.
She disclosed that, “It is worth noting that internationally 1 in 3 women or over 800 million worldwide experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or by any perpetrator. Existing studies also suggest that 11.6% to 75.6% of women and girls have experienced one form of violence or another. Despite this, less is known about the level of gender-based violence against women and girls disability in general.”
To her, even though Ghana has adopted inclusive pieces of legislation and policies, there remain implementation setbacks which continue to increase marginalization among vulnerable groups, especially women and girls with disabilities in enjoying their fundamental rights.
Mrs. Mawunyo Yakor Dagbah, made this assertion at the National Forum on Gender Based Violence Against women and girls with disabilities, under the theme; Building a Stronger voice to end violence against women and girls with disabilities in Ghana, which was held at Alisa hotel in Accra on Friday 16th December, 2022.
The programme which was organised by Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations in partnership with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), was aimed to raise awareness on the multiple violence women and girls with disabilities face and also build a stronger voice among stakeholders to campaign against violence women and girls with disabilities are faced with.
Mrs. Yakor Dagbah, further made known that the federation in the spirit of meaningful engagements and partnerships is committed in promoting the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities, especially women and girls.
For his part, Deputy Director for Public Education at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mr. Mawuli Avitor, accused most state institutions of not understanding the issues of persons with disabilities and for that matter, when complaints of such nature are lodged with them, they are unable to understand it better and also approach it the way it should be.
Mr Mawuli, therefore urged the state to strengthen those institutions and facilities with the requisite resources that will enable them to appreciate the understanding issues of persons with disabilities and to address them appropriately.
He is of the view that, the behaviour of some law enforcement officers puts off confidence in persons with disability when there is the need for them to lodge complaints. He therefore charged them to treat everyone equal in discharge of their duties.
“One of the biggest challenges for people living with disabilities has been the issue of stigmatization. And we say this could happen to anybody at any time, so we should change our mindset that disability could happen to anybody at any time. With that kind of mindset, it is easier to empathize with them and work with them for them to be included in everything that we do,” Mr Mawuli emphasized.
He further opined that, CHRAJ as a national institution, has a responsibility to educate the public on their fundamental rights and freedoms in order for people to understand issues with disabilities in Ghana.
Mr Mawuli Avitor, seized the opportunity to call on Ghanaians to accord person with disabilities especially, women and girls with some dignity and respect, because they are all human beings.
He said, “Ghana has an act and a policy in terms of inclusive education, but the act is not acting. The policies are there, so it is either the moral power or willpower to make sure that we are walking the talk. We are just doing a lot of talking, but with a little or no action.
Majority of Ghanaians attributes the failure of leaders on enforcing policies as a major setback in the quest for disability inclusion.”