The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has pointed out that subjecting women to customary practices that are dehumanizing and injurious to their physical and mental well-being is prohibited under Article 26 (2) of the 1992 Constitution.
According to the Commission, dehumanizing cultural practices including widowhood rites, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as well as early and forced marriages were not only in direct contradiction of women’s rights but also amounted to perpetuation of gender discrimination.
Mr Yakubu Sabutu, Chief Assistant Investigator in the Jirapa Municipal Office of CHRAJ, said this during a community forum at Jirapa-Zokyiere in the Jirapa Municipality of the Upper West Region.
The forum was organised by the Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Girls (EROP) Project Support Team in the community after receiving training from the Africa Centre for Human Rights and Sustainable Development (AfCHuRSD) to help champion the issues at the community level.
“It is therefore an offense to this Article of the Constitution for anyone to subject especially women to any dehumanizing cultural practices including those above,” he said.
Mr Sabutu noted further that Article 17 (1) of the 1992 Constitution stated that “All persons shall be equal before the law”, meaning any discrimination based on gender and sex were disallowed, hence no woman should be discriminated against based on these lines.
He said Article 22 (1) of the Constitution provided that “A spouse shall not be deprived of a reasonable provision of the estate of a spouse whether or not the spouse died having made a Will” and shall further have equal access to property jointly acquired during marriage, which shall be distributed equitably between the spouses upon dissolution of the marriage.
The CHRAJ Assistant Investigator observed, however, that this particular right had often been abused to the extent that women were always seen not to be entitled to this right.
Mr Sabutu therefore appealed to chiefs and opinion leaders to help fight human rights abuses so that society could live and progress in peace.
Inspector Francis Forson Ackon, the Criminal Investigative Department (CID) Officer in charge of the Jirapa Municipality indicated that rape, defilement, elopement/abduction were all crimes and punishable by law.
He encouraged the people to endeavour to report domestic violence cases to the appropriate agencies for assistance, adding that women also have dignity and should be protected by their husbands and families and not to be subjected to undignified treatment.
Mr Justice Donglabong Dinaa, the Representative of the Paramount Chief of Jirapa, Naa Ansoleh Ganaa II, thanked AfCHuRSD for the education, adding that it was for them to know some of the things that they were not doing right so that they could correct them to promote healthy living in their various homes.
He encouraged men to respect and protect the rights of women in the community to empower them and also promote peaceful co-existence.
Mr David Ganye, the Regional Coordinator of AfCHuRSD, said the EROP project sought to ensure that women and girls in Ghana realised their human rights and utilize opportunities to better their lot.
The Dutch Embassy in Ghana is funding the project and being implemented in partnership with GH Alliance, AfCHuRSD and WOMEN IN NEED (WIN).