16 Days campaign to end violence against women begins in Ghana

Accra – Ghana has launched this year’s 16 Days of Activism Campaign Against Gender Based Violence (GBV) as part of activities to commemorate this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Launch of 16 Days in Tamale

The 16-day long activities were organized by the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MoWAC) in partnership with a number of organizations including UNIC Accra, UNFPA and UN Women.  They include a national gathering of community leaders and representatives from various organization, both private and public, a visit to Gnani outcast home referred to as “witch camp”, and a student symposium, all in the north of the country.

This year’s campaign is under the theme; “From peace in the home to peace in the world: Let’s challenge militarism to end violence against women”.

The national launch was preceded by a procession of women, representatives of public and private sector institution including, UN Agencies, NGO’s and other activists through the principal streets of Tamale. The impact of such campaigns including processions has been a general public awareness which has resulted in breaking the mystery and culture of the silent pandemic of GBV.  Women and men held placards some of which read “Lets all fight against violence”, “disagreements are rights of opinion” and “wife battering is not a proof of might”.  Speaking at the launch, the Deputy Minister of MoWAC, Hajia Boya Gariba said the government is working together with stakeholders to “ensure the smooth and effective implementation of the” Domestic Violence Act (Act 732) which was passed in 2007 in an effort to curb and eliminate GBV.  “This 16 days campaign provides an opportunity to reflect on what the government, in collaboration with other human rights activists can do to account for and challenge the structures that allow the perpetration of GBV” she added.

16 Days 2012 Parade in Tamale

She said this year’s theme is most appropriate for Ghana due to the forthcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections given the link between conflict and gender violence. She urged Ghanaians to be peaceful and to learn from the unfortunate situations of conflicts in other countries which led to several atrocities against women and children. Hajia Boya Gariba also called on traditional rulers and activists to educate community members on the need to abolish harmful cultural practices like female genital mutilation, witch hunting, forced-marriages, inhuman widowhood rites and religious bondage (Trokosi).

Launch of 16 Days in Tamale Sketch on Gender Based violence

In a goodwill message from the Northern Regional Director of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, the Northern Regional Director, ASP Emmanuel Holortu urged victims to cooperate with investigation processes of such cases in order to assist in eliminating all forms of violence against women. Officials from UNFPA, UN Women, NGOs and other stakeholders re-affirmed their commitments towards supporting government through initiatives to end violence against women.

The National Information Officer of the United Nations, Ms. Cynthia Prah read the Secretary General’s message which called on governments to honour their pledges to end all forms of violence against women and girls.

Some victims of gender-based violence also shared their experience.

Ghana is said to have chalked some successes in sensitizing the public to refrain from causing unnecessary harm to women and girls. However, violence against women is still ongoing. Ghanaian women like their counterparts around the world have frequently been victims of sexual, domestic violence and other forms of abuse by intimate relations. Available reports and statistics from the DOVVSU of the Ghana Police Service indicate that out of the 12,906 cases of various forms of violence received nationwide in 2011, 4,701 were assault on women, 376 rape cases and defilement of girls accounts for 1,175.