The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) has called for an urgent investment in time and resources to prevent a high incidence of domestic violence in various communities in Ghana.
Mr Niyi Ojuolape, UNFPA Ghana Representative noted that despite the existence of several legal frameworks and institutions, a large segment of the population, especially women, adolescent girls, and children continued to suffer violence in all forms.
“Preventing and responding to violence against those that are vulnerable requires that we intensify our efforts systematically to address risk and protective factors at all levels, mainly; individual, relationship, community, and society.”
Mr Ojuolape was speaking at a National Stakeholder’s Review Meeting on Ghana’s 10-year Old Domestic Violence Policy and Action Plan on Tuesday in Accra.
The overall goal of the 10-year Policy document (2009-2019) was to eliminate domestic violence from Ghana’s society, create family cohesion, and provide a peaceful environment to accelerate national development.
The Domestic Violence Act, Act 732 (2007) was passed by Parliament in June 2007 to protect women and children, particularly from domestic violence.
During the meeting, the Ministries of Education; Gender, Children, and Social Protection, the Judicial Service and Security Agencies were allowed to draw lessons learnt over the past ten years and strategize on the way forward.
Stakeholders would also discuss interventions as well as key achievements and emerging issues and trends of domestic violence in the country.
Mr Ojuolape said the UNFPA was very much concerned about the rising incidence of violence often affecting women and girls.
“We believe there is a need for us to improve on prevention efforts as well as effective management of cases to mitigate long term effects on the victims.”
He said the recent lynching of some elderly women due to mere allegations of witchcrafts were incidents that required immediate attention to prevent such crimes from re-occurring.
According to him, domestic violence constituted one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world, adding that, “it knows no social, economic or national boundaries.”
Mr Ojuolape said domestic violence undermined the health, dignity, security, and autonomy of its victims.
“Victims of domestic violence often suffer reproductive health consequences including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections including HIV and even death.”
He recounted that a 2016 survey on domestic violence indicated that 27.7 per cent of Ghanaian women have experienced at least one form of domestic violence in the 12 months before the survey.
Mr Ojuolape said the survey also indicated that young women aged between 15 and 19 were up to four times more likely to have experienced domestic violence than women aged 30 to 39 years.
He tasked stakeholders to take into consideration the ever-evolving digital world, and reflect the needs and realities of women, girls, persons with disabilities and people in hard to reach communities.
Mr Ojuolape pledged UNFPA’s commitment to partner with Government and Civil Society Organizations to continuously work to eliminate all forms of violence against girls, women, and persons with disabilities.
Madam Freda Akosua Prempeh, Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, and Member of Parliament for Tano North Constituency said violence against women and girls continued to be a barrier to gender equality in most countries, including Ghana.
She said the scope of domestic violence required more than governmental action, stressing that the Ministry would ensure effective coordination of multi-agency action to combat domestic violence in Ghana.
To this end, Madam Prempeh said the Ministry through the Domestic Violence Secretariat would promote public-private partnership and multi-disciplinary solutions to deal with domestic violence in the country.
She said her Ministry would also ensure that the renewed policy captured the needs of the time and also guided policy implementation effectively into the future.