A forum on gender based violence and domestic violence was held last October at the Breman Esikuma Assembly Hall complex with a call on participants to find a way to sentisise opinion and community leaders to have a better understanding of the Domestic Violence Act.
The advocacy forum was jointly organised by the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU), the United Nations Fund for Population Activity (UNFPA) and the European Union (EU).
In attendance were chiefs, opinion leaders, mothers and members of the media and some heads of Departments.
Resource persons were drawn from the Attorney General's Department, the Ghana Health Service and the Ghana Police.
Mr Vincent Nyinaku of the Attorney General's Department at Cape Coast who explained what domestic relationship was all about and also what domestic violence comprises of.
Mr Nyinaku stated that, our society is faced with challenges of domestic violence such as wife battery, causing harm, causing damage, unlawful rejection and threat or harm.
He said, sexual offences which include rape, defilement, indecent assault and incest are on the increas ,and therefore called on all to dialogue with one another to find a way to sensitise opinion and community leaders to have a better understanding of the Domestic Violence Act.
Mr Nyinaku added that such understanding will enhance the knowledge of participants on Domestic Violence and Gender Based Violence to facilitate the patronage of DOVVSU offices or desks in the selected districts.
He then appealed to participants to use the advocacy to effectively announce DOVVSU's ten year milestone and its achievements in promoting Gender Rights and access to justice and support system for victims.
According to Mr Nyinaku, humiliation, psychological and emotional abuse of others in the domestic setting also constitute domestic violence.adding that, people coming under such duress often become withdrawn and miserable.
Dr Amuzu of Our Lady of Grace Hospital at Asikuma took the audience through medical implications of Domestic Violence issues at the hospital.
He advised that cases of Domestic violence when occured should be brought to the hospital in time to enable health workers collect evidence for the necessary referrals to the Police and other agencies involved.
Dr Amuzu stated also that when cases are reported early, they enable the hospital to draw up effective treatment plan for the victims.
He said most cases are reported late making the real circumstances surrounding the occurrences either masked or shrouded in secrecy to either protect someone in the family, an acquaintance of the family or for the prestige of the family.
He therefore appealed to people to endeavour to sensitise people on the need to report cases promptly and truthfully within 72 hours to the hospital.
Mr Emmanuel T O Koso; the Central Regional Public Relations Officer of the Police Service highlighted the distinction between defilement and rape.
He said that sex abuse of children under 16 years of age is termed as defilement while sexual abuse of a person who is 16 years and above is what constitutes rape. and said, defilement cases usually attract 7 to 25 years imprisonment while rape cases attract from 5 to 25 years jail sentences.