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08.04.2004 General News

Support Domestic Violence Bill to protect victims

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Accra, April 8, GNA - Nana Asantewa Afadzinu, Coordinator of the National Coalition on Domestic Violence Legislation, on Thursday called for massive support for the Domestic Violence Bill (DVB) to provide protection for victims, especially women and children.

The Bill yet to be introduced to Parliament, is intended to provide a legal framework to address the menace of domestic violence and provide protection for victims of abuse in the home.

It would also hold those who commit the abuse accountable and provide adequate remedies taking into consideration the sensitive nature of the domestic relationship.

Nana Afadzinu, who was speaking at a forum organised for the media on the DVB, said it would be an improvement on the existing law that was inadequate in dealing with particular crimes on domestic violence.

"Under this, medical expenses of victims of both sexes are to be borne by the perpetrator", she said.

The forum was to enlighten the media on the need to support the Bill and be able to clarify the numerous misconceptions about the marital rape that was under the Bill.

Nana Afadzinu said the Coalition had travelled throughout the country to seek views from the public and to make them understand that the Bill was not a punitive action against men.

"Human life is not negotiable, therefore, those who attempt to terminate life prematurely, needs to be condemned", she said. Nana Afadzinu appealed to the public especially women, to see the need to support the Bill to ensure maximum protection for their lives. Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, Senior Lecturer, School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Legon tasked the media to study the Bill thoroughly to enable them to explain it authoritatively.

She explained that the Bill was not a contest between men and women as it was being portrayed but "an all inclusive one".

Dr Gadzekpo noted that domestic violence was becoming an increasing menace and stressed the need for the public not to trivialise it. The Bill, she said, was a noble one and provided remedies that the family system could not provide and urged the public to support its passage into law to help save lives and bring peace to the society.

Explaining the effects of domestic violence, Ms Gifty Agbeti, Head of the Counselling Department, Women's Initiative for Self Empowerment (WISE), said children from violent homes became physically and psychologically disturbed and this affected their academic performances. She said abuses including battery, rape, incest, constant humiliation, striping ones self-confidence were some of the few issues to be addressed under the Bill.

Ms Agbeti said it was time for all to join in the campaign against violence and fully condemn it by supporting the passage of the Bill into law.