Gender-based violence (GBV) or violence against women and girls (VAWG), is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime.
According to a World Bank report, "35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.
This issue is not only devastating for survivors of violence and their families, but also entails significant social and economic costs. In some countries, violence against women is estimated to cost countries up to 3.7 percent of their GDP, which is more than double what most governments spend on education.
Decreasing violence against women and girls requires a community-based, multi-pronged approach, and sustained engagement with multiple stakeholders.
On the backdrop of this, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Pearl Safe Haven with funding support from its partners is building a three-story holistic recovery centre for female survivors of gender-based violence, which is located on the outskirts of Accra.
During a visit from the principal donor, Geodrill, Isobel Afful-Mensah, Co-founder of the Pearl Safe Haven spoke to News Ghana. She noted that, currently there very limited functioning safe houses in Accra for GBV victims thus, the Pearl Safe Haven is an emergency shelter with some elements of transitional housing for survivors of domestic violence, abuse, and rape.
The house according to her, will be the best equipped safe house in Accra to accommodate women aged 18-25 years, for 3 months with an integrated rehabilitation programme.
She said the centre would also admit young children who are accompanying survivor mothers as it will provide access to legal assistance, psychological help and practical skills training to empower them as they exit the Haven.
Ms. Afful-Mensah, further disclosed that, they have built a Safe Haven Mobile Application and Hotline to provide a 24-hour services for survivors or persons in the general public to call in for assistance in any area related to domestic violence, abuse and rape. "This hotline will function alongside a mobile application that women and girls with smartphones can easily use to reach the shelter for assistance." She added.
She also said, "Women will be referred to the Pearl Safe Haven by the Domestic Violence Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU), of the Ghana Police Service and will work closely with Social Welfare, Gender Ministry and coalition partners including Obaapa Development and WILDAF Ghana to ensure a successful outcome for our clients."
Geodrill, a leading exploration drilling company, has offered continuous support to get the Safe Haven fully operational to welcome survivors as early as November, 2020. CEO, Dave Harper, gave his full support to the Pearl Safe Haven praising Ms Afful Mensah’s view that they are determined to change the narrative on Gender Based Violence in the country. "Although, it is important to give survivors the physical, emotional and mental space to plan for the future, it's not an answer to domestic violence but a critical step to achieving more justice."
Actress Ama K. Abebrese, who led the campaign to abolish medical fees for rape victims and highlighting the plight of victims seeking treatment and justice, has been closely following the progress of the Pearl Safe Haven and was overwhelmed seeing the level of care and concern given to creating the modern complex. She thanked Geodrill Ghana Limited, BKT Engineering, Mohinani Group and all the donor partners for making this dream a reality.
Carrying out the construction is BKT Construction Engineering, headed by Kwabena Addi-Kissiedu and Nana Ofosu Osafo a purely Ghanaian construction company with project management support for the Pearl Safe Haven team by Godfred Boateng-Antwi.
Donor partners include Australian High Commission in Accra, Geodrill Ghana Limited, UNFPA, Mohinani Group, Nexans Kabelmetal Ghana and Diamond Cement. Further information about the center and supporting the cause, visit: https://thepearlsafehaven.org/