Source: Daily Guide Ghana
A women’s right organization, Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA) Ghana Alumnae Incorporated is promoting tougher stance on domestic violence offences with a call for enforcement of existing laws and stiffer punishment for perpetrators.
Sheila Minkah Premo, Co-Director of LAWA Ghana, the organization which has for the past 15 years been using legal strategies to promote the Human Rights of women in Ghana and Africa, noted that getting tougher with domestic violence offenders would be one of the best ways to effectively address domestic violence.
Speaking to journalists on the eve of the 57th international women’s human rights day celebration which fell on March 8, 2013, she noted that punishing defaulters would deter others.
“There is the need to effectively protect the rights of victims,” she said while she added that “the manner in which recent cases particularly on domestic violence have been addressed leaves a lot to be desired.”
This year, the theme for the commemoration of the day was “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.”
Mrs Minkah Premo noted that though violence was not gender specific in nature as it could occur between and amongst people of either sexes, studies have showed that there are certain types of violence that are directed at women because of their sex.
She educated that violence against women covered three areas including physical, sexual and psychological which occur in the family, the community and those perpetrated or condoned by the state.
“It could be in the form of battering, sexual abuse, dowry related violence, rape, female genital mutilation, harmful traditional practices, non-spousal violence, exploitation, sexual harassment, intimidation, trafficking in women and forced prostitution” among others.
She mentioned that the 1992 Constitution has provisions that address violence against women such as right to life, respect for human dignity, protection from slavery and forced labour, equality before the law, freedom from discrimination, right to own property, right to privacy, protection from inhuman cultural practices and general fundamental freedoms.
She also noted that under the Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732) enacted to provide a comprehensive set of remedies in addressing domestic violence, offenders are prosecuted with imprisonment of up to three years, and pointed out that even though the law states that victims who are accompanied to the hospital by police personnel should access free medical services “this is yet to happen, as the legislative instrument that was to have been passed to ensure the full implementation of the Act is yet to be passed.”
Though she commended policy makers for their efforts she was quick to note that “a lot more remains to be done” and therefore called on the tree arms of government to put in more efforts to address all aspects of violence against women.
She specifically appealed for the passage of the regulations to implement the domestic Violence Act which is currently at the Attorney General’s Office as well as the Property Rights of Spouses Bill and the Interstate Succession Bill before Parliament into law.
By Emelia Ennin Abbey