MRS Esther Obeng-Dapaah, NPP Member of Parliament for Abirem, yesterday called on all well-meaning Ghanaians to support actions and programmes aimed at curbing domestic violence.
She said: “We can no long hide our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich whilst a greater majority of our people suffer.”
Mrs Obeng-Dapaah, who was making a statement in parliament on violence at home, said more than 80 per cent of victims of domestic violence are women, children, the disabled and the aged.
She said statistics available at the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit of the Ghana Police showed that 71 per cent of perpetrators of violence at home were husbands whilst 13 per cent were wives, and 80 per cent of defilement cases were perpetrated by fathers, neighbours; co-tenants, houseboys and drivers.
She said types of sexual offences committed at home against children are fondling, incest, sodomy and actual intercourse while physical abuse on children includes slapping, kicking, punching, biting, whipping, burning and sheer neglect.
According to the MP, more serious forms of abuse in the home were socio-economic and psychological, adding that these largely went unpunished in the society.
“These abuses include maltreatment or hard hitting insults to make a person feel insignificant, denial of work, deprivation of basic needs by spouses and the non-maintenance of children.”
Mrs Obeng-Dapaah said the impact of these forms of abuse was grave and if not adequately addressed might result in lasting mental and psychological problems for victims.
She said some harmful cultural and traditional practices such as widowhood rights, female genital mutilation, compulsory or forced early marriages and arguably polygamy also tended to violate the rights of women and children.
Mrs Obeng-Dapaah said existing laws under the Criminal Code might allow for punishment of culprits but it did not provide for compensation for victims and counselling for both victim and offender.
She, therefore, called on the members to give their maximum support to the Domestic Violence Bill when it came for second reading ibecause it contained several antidotes to the social problem.