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27.11.2003 General News

Those who infect spouses with HIV/AIDS to be prosecuted

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Kumasi, Nov. 27, GNA- People living with the HIV-AIDS who refuse to declare their status and infect their spouses with the deadly disease will be liable to prosecution when the Domestic Violence Law is passed.

Nana Oye Lithur of the African Women Lawyers Association, who made this known, described this provision in the law as an important innovation that would protect both men and women from the risk of getting infected with the HIV/AIDS by unfaithful partners.

She was explaining the "Content and meaning of the Draft Bill" at a seminar in Kumasi on Thursday.

It was organised by the National Coalition of Domestic Violence Legislation in Ghana as part of its continued efforts at educating and rallying public support for the Bill.

In attendance were more than 100 participants who included community leaders religious groups, social workers, the security services and lawyers.

Nana Oye said what the law seeks to do is to give adequate protection to those in domestic relationship but not punishment. "Even if a man and a woman are not legally married the law could be applied if an abuse occurs."

She said incorporated in the law is a "Protection Order" under which those guilty of abuse of their spouses could be restrained from their marital homes, telephoning or sending text messages to harass their partners.

Mrs Rita Akoto Coker, Senior Communications Officer of Action Aid, said it was high time Ghanaians stopped perceiving domestic violence as purely family matters.

She noted that violence was a ''learned behaviour'' and that if children grew up in a violent environment they would tend to be violent.

"The home is supposed to serve as a refuge but if it turns out to be something else then there is something terribly wrong."

Mr Mawuli Dake, Deputy National Co-ordinator of the Coalition, asked the people to lobby parliamentarians to support the passage of the Bill. "We have to get them to support what the people want", he said.

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