Sexual violence “18% of all girls in Ghana had their first sexual intercourse through coercion"
Miss Eudora Oppong, administrator of the Kumasi branch of the Federation of International Women Lawyers (FIDA) Ghana, has stated that there is no justification whatsoever for violence against women. She said there is equally no reason why any woman should be abused in her own home.
Miss Oppong was speaking at a FIDA-Ghana legal outreach programme for 100 participants, mostly women drawn from civil society groups in the Dormaa District at Dormaa-Ahenkro.
She said the acts of domestic violence "render victims to imminent harm as well as indelible psychological trauma for the rest of their lives".
World Day of Prayer, a German non-governmental organization, sponsored the workshop under the theme, "Improving women's access to justice".
It was aimed at exposing the participants to the Domestic Violence Bill, which is awaiting Presidential assent, the Intestate Succession Law, PNDCL III, the Children's Act (Act 560) and the laws on marriage.
Miss Oppong explained that perpetrators of domestic violence "basically come from all social and economic backgrounds, races and religions…Statistics from the Domestic Violence Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service reveal that whilst 90 per cent of all domestic violence victims are women, 18 per cent of all girls in Ghana had their first sexual intercourse through coercion".
She emphasized that the biggest impacts of cyclical violence on victims are embarrassment and perpetual isolation from family and friends.
Miss Oppong noted that the efforts of the few domestic violence victims, who attempt to reach out were often sabotaged by their partners through rude and obnoxious behaviours.
She declared that the situation ought to change to provide women with enough power to execute their traditional responsibilities of taking care of the human and material resources of their entire families.
On the Intestate Succession Law PNDCL III, Madam Victoria Owusu Kyeremaa, Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of the Department of Women urged spouses to assist their partners to put in place viable mechanisms for the smooth devolution of their estate before death so as to avoid any tussles over it.
She reminded widows that children of their husbands, whether born in or out of wedlock, were qualified beneficiaries of their father's estate hence the need to take care not to infringe on the rights of such children.
Squadron Leader Ben Anane Asamoah (Rtd), Dormaa District Chief Executive, noted that society's persistent silence over domestic violence was as dangerous as the abuse itself.
"There are many who still have the notion that domestic violence is something that should be dealt with inside the home", he said, and called on victims and their family members not to hesitate to break the silence anytime such abuses occurred.
He stressed that this way society's war on domestic violence would be carried to the level where the menace would no longer enjoy being shrouded in secrecy.
The participants deplored how several laws including the district assembly's byelaws had remained on the shelves without being implemented and expressed the hope that the domestic violence bill as law would not suffer this fate.