Mrs Mercy Acquah-Hayford, Country Director, Inerela+Ghana, has called on religious bodies to help in the provision of shelter for victims of sexual and gender based abuse.
She said, “victims of abuse go though a lot and we think that our religious bodies must lead the way to provide shelter for them. Government as well as NGOs and corporate organisations must also come on board.”
Mrs Acquah-Hay Ford made the call at the opening of a capacity building workshop organised by Inerela+ Ghana for young adults on sexual and gender based violence in communities, on Thursday, in Accra.
The workshop was aimed at building the capacities of young people from Islamic communities in Agona Swedru, Kaneshie Thomas Clarke Memorial Methodist Rehabilitation Shelter and Osu Presby.
It was to discuss among other things, gender based violence, adolescent health, women’s right and HIV and AIDS
“We have carefully chosen these topics for discussion because cases of abuse or violence, as well as teenage pregnancies are on the rise. And in recent times the country has started recording increases in cases of HIV and AIDS. So we want to create the awareness for people go check their status, take precautionary measures to avoid being infected and help reduce stigma.”
Mrs Acquah-Hayford urged parents to be supportive, vigilant and care for their children, especially the adolescent girls, so they did not get abused, raped, impregnated and infected with HIV.
Rev. John Azumah, Immediate Past Chair, Inarela+Ghana, said 70 percent of the population had negative perceptions about people living with HIV, however anyone could be infected.
He said the judgemental minds of the public against people living with HIV and AIDS made people hide their status and spread the virus.
“We can never end HIV and AIDS if society do not change the perception and continue to stigmatise. We must rather show people love and encourage them to take their medication religiously until there is a permanent cure.”
Rev. Azumah appealed to State institutions not to stigmatise against people living with HIV and Aids during recruitment, because they also had the right to decent employment.
Inerela+ Ghana is an international inter-faith network of religious leaders living with HIV or personally affected by HIV and Aids. It was established in South Africa in 2002.
It envisages a society free of HIV related stigma and discrimination, with empowered, resilient religious leaders living with or personally affected by HIV and AIDS.
It also seeks to empower leaders through education, knowledge and skills to live positively, becoming symbols of hope and agents of change who will help eliminate stigma and discrimination within their congregations and communities.