Global estimates published by World Health Organisation (WHO) (updated in 2016) indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) women worldwide have experienced either physical and or sexual violence.
This year marks the 26th anniversary of the 16 days campaign since its introduction.
The global theme for this year is “Leave no one behind; end violence against women and girls” which commits to a world free from violence for all women and girls around the world, while reaching the most underserved and marginalized, including persons living with disability, migrants, minorities, and populations affected by conflict and natural disasters, amongst others.
Global estimates published by World Health Organisation (WHO) (updated in 2016) indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) women worldwide have experienced either physical and or sexual violence in their life time.
The recent national Domestic Violence prevalence research conducted by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in 2016 indicated that nearly 28% of women experienced at least one form of Domestic violence in the 12 months prior to the survey.
The most common form of domestic violence reported by women in the survey was economic violence (12.8 per cent), followed by social violence (11.6 per cent), psychological violence (9.3 per cent), physical violence (6.0 per cent) and sexual violence (2.5 per cent).
Although reports of domestic violence against men were recorded in the survey, the incidence was generally lower. In addition, statistics from the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) indicate that the number of reported defilement cases between 2012 and 2016 was 5581; these numbers are generally agreed by professionals and practitioners as woefully under reported because many victims suffer these crimes at the hands of family members or persons known to them.
Further, it has been widely reported that traditional authorities and family heads shield perpetrators of these crimes instead of protecting women and children; the most recent one being the alleged defilement of a 4 year old girl in Assin Adadientem.
Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) has a devastating impact on individuals and on the society as a whole. It drains resources which could be channeled into other useful ventures, and creates a cycle of violence that continues against the most vulnerable. It is rooted in gender-based discrimination and social norms as well as gender stereotyping.
In the face of the many challenges in delivering justice to the victims of violence, WiLDAF-Ghana takes this opportunity to commend the Government for the efforts and structures put in place to address violence against women and girls, including: promulgating and amending laws to address gender based violence, establishing the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU), Domestic Violence Courts and most recently passing the long-awaited Legislative Instrument (LI) of the Domestic Violence Act.
However, there are still significant challenges which should be addressed with regards to the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act.
These include inadequate funding for DOVVSU, the non-operation of the Domestic Violence Fund, the need for national shelters for gender based violence survivors and the low convictions of domestic violence cases reported to DOVVSU.
Another growing concern is the fact that defilement is increasing and also becoming socially acceptable in some communities.
WiLDAF-Ghana on this occasion, wishes to encourage the Government of Ghana, all stakeholders and the general public to come together to end gender based violence.
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There is the need to actively engage men and boys as advocates to end gender discrimination and gender based violence.
WiLDAF however, called on traditional and religious leaders to join the fight by publicly condemning acts of gender based violence in their communities.
It also called on government to:
Reconstitute the Domestic Violence Management Board to enable a smooth implementation of section 41 of the DV Act 2007, (Act 731),
As a matter of urgency, resource the Domestic Violence Fund and provide free medical care for domestic violence survivors as stipulated in the sections 8(3) and 29 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732) and its Legislative Instrument,
Work towards the decentralisation of Domestic Violence and Victim Support Units in remote areas, and strengthen cooperation with NGOs providing shelters and rehabilitation to victims,
Build capacity of key actors including prosecutors, crime officers, and medical officials among others to ensure proper management of domestic violence cases.