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14.08.2003 General News

Abolish harmful Cultural practices against women

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Accra Aug. 14, GNA - Participants at a day's sensitisation forum on Thursday, called for the abolishing of harmful cultural practices that promote the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation, Trokosi and widow inheritance were listed as some of the practices that promote the spread of the deadly menace.

Such harmful cultural practices according to the participants, which formed part of violence against women and children and an obstacle to equality, was also an intolerable offence to human dignity.

The forum, which was organised in Accra by the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs in collaboration with the National Council on women (NCWD) and Development, was on harmful traditional practices and it implications for HIV/AIDS.

Participants were from the various women organisations throughout the country.

Mrs Cynthia Addison, Member of the Ghana Association of Women Welfare (GAWW) said the use of instruments like knives, razor blades and pieces of glass to perform FGM in multiple operations without proper sterilization was harmful.

"This exposes the innocent girls to contracting the HIV virus apart from the other infections that they might be exposed to", she said. FGM, which is being practiced by some ethnic groups in the country mostly in the three Northern Regions, has a prevalence rate of between 9 and 12 per cent.

It is, however, estimated that Kassena -Nankana District alone has a prevalence rate of 77 per cent.

Mr Cromwell Awadey of International Needs, Ghana, a non-governmental organisation, who talked on Trokosi system and its implication for HIV/AIDS, said priests engaged in polygamous marriages under Trokosi exposed the women to HIV/AIDS infection. He said Trokosi had serious developmental and health consequences for women and called for its abolishment.

Mrs Marian A. Tackie, Acting Executive Director of NCWD, said women continue to fall victim to such harmful practices despite recent developments in healthcare.

She asked those engaged in those practices to stop and free the helpless women and children from the sufferings.

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