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19 June 2016

Danish funded project on gender-based violence ends

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social ProtectionThe Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) on Thursday, held a forum to brief stakeholders on progress so far made with regards to ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).

The two-year project on SGBV focused on directly engaging community leaders through extensive education, to change negative traditional practices that perpetuate violence against the vulnerable, especially women, and enhance women empowerment.

It also targeted the judiciary, security agencies and the media to improve access to justice and better reportage on these issues. Participants who were drawn from sectors including the academia, Judicial Service, health practitioners, law enforcement agencies, civil society, traditional leaders as well as the media, were also allowed to make comments and contributions at the forum.

They called for robust political will and sustained funding from other development partners for programmes and activities to end SGBV. In a speech read on her behalf, Nana Oye Lithur, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), thanked the Danish Government for the support through DANIDA, for the execution of the project since 2015.

According to her, through well packaged educational messages and stronger collaborative engagements, there is currently increased visibility of SGBV issues, while the Ministry has gained greater strength in terms of formulation of policy and legislation. Nana Oye cited the launch of the National Gender Policy, National Social Protection Policy and the Inclusive Education Policy, as steps to provide legislative backing to end SGBV and provide security for the vulnerable in the society.

She also said interventions such as the establishment of response or support centres currently at the Agbobloshie and Mallam Atta markets in Accra, and the Oforikrom market in Kumasi and others to be established later across the country would provide easy access to seek redress for victims of abuses.

She said in spite of the numerous achievements, SGBV remains widespread with frightening statistics, such that one out of every four Ghanaian women have suffered a form of violence, while 27.7 per cent were reported to have suffered from domestic violence.

Statistics from the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service indicates that 17,778 and 15,749 cases of SGBV were recorded in 2014 and 2015, and new research also shows that there are still negative traditional attitudes such as child marriage, Female Genital Mutilation and Trokosi still in practice within some communities.

She said SGBV leaves devastating effect on the victims, families, communities and the nation at large, as they may result in unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, depressions, deformities and even the death of victims. There were also challenges with data availability, lack of widespread support systems, and unfair justice for victims of abuse due to lack of proper evidence for prosecution.

Ms Lena Hothes, the First Secretary and Gender Focal Point at DANIDA, commended the MoGCSP for the impressive work and expressed satisfaction at the achievements so far, which has led to the breaking of the taboo about the open discussion of sex and sexual-based violence as well as gender-based issues within the society.

She said SGBV has been a priority on the agenda of the Danish Government and is glad that the project has had more impact especially on key stakeholders such as the judiciary, media, traditional leaders and civil society, who would act as agents of change and also ensure proper justice for victims of abuses.

Ms Hothes, said although the project has ended DANIDA is providing funding support to some non-governmental organisations who are working on similar projects, and expressed the hope that the good practices and lessons learnt so far would be shared by the Ministry to ensure sustained gains.

By Christabel Addo, GNA

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