Story: Samuel Duodu, Sunyani
The Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mrs Mercy Larbi, has called for the establishment of shelters for victims of domestic violence in all the 10 regional capitals, at least.
She said the construction of the centres, as stated in the Domestic Violence Act 2007 (Act 732), had become crucial if the Act was to be implemented to the letter and help curb gender-based violence, particularly against women and children in the country.
The Domestic Violence Act states that when the life of the victim is at risk or threatened, a shelter must be provided for the victim to protect them and enable them to live away from the perpetrator until the final determination of the case.
Mrs Larbi made the call when she presented a paper on “ The Law and its implementation” at a day’s seminar organised in Sunyani by the Brong-Ahafo Regional Directorate of the Department of Women under the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs. She said currently there was no such centre for victims in the region.
The seminar had the theme “Demanding Implementation, Challenging Obstacle, End Violence Against Women.”
The seminar aimed at sensitising participants to the law and its implementation and was attended by members of the various women’s groups and associations in the Sunyani Municipality.
Mrs Larbi stressed that until some of the provisions in the Domestic Violence Act such as shelters and funds to cater for victims of domestic violence were established, the implementation of the law would be difficult.
Buttressing her point, she cited a case in which the woman who was the victim had been threatened by the husband not to step in the house, since she had taken him (the husband) to court and that if she did, he would kill her.
Mrs Larbi said in that instance she did not know where to send the victim to pass the night, because she was not from the region and had no relatives around.
She said the law was there to protect the vulnerable, including men who had been abused by women, and urged all to support its implementation, adding that under the Domestic Violence Act, informants were to be protected by the police and so people must gather the courage to report cases of abuse which occurred around them.
The Regional Director of the Department of Women, Madam Victoria Owusu-Kyeremaa, said violence did not only affect women but men as well, adding that in most cases, the victims were the vulnerable in the society, especially women, children and the aged.
She observed that many violations against women were not recognised as human rights violations and that even nations regarded these as customs, traditions and acceptable cultural practices which had to be respected in spite of international and national provisions which guaranteed the human rights of all.
“Violence is anti-developmental. It has the tendency to cripple the victims, make them totally unproductive and incapable of giving their best. It also has the tendency to drive victims insane and perpetually ill or incapacitated. These ultimately become a drain on state resources and also affect the individual’s physical and emotional development and consequently, the development of the entire nation”, Madam Owusu-Kyeremaa said with regret.
The regional director said it was the expectation of all that the government would expedite action to ensure the full implementation of every aspect of the law and address all emerging challenges.
Nana Abraham Kwadwo Kwakye, the Deputy Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, for his part, said the implementation of the law was not the sole responsibility of government but a collective one.
He, therefore, called on all stakeholders to get on board to ensure that every aspect of the law was implemented.