12.05.2004 General News

Civil society orgs. discuss Domestic Violence Bill

12.05.2004 LISTEN

Tamale, May 12, GNA- Mrs Gladys Asmah, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs has said the rising incidence of domestic violence was undermining the sanctity of families.

She said domestic violence, no matter the form, brings about social disorder and instability in the family.

Mrs Asmah was addressing traditional rulers, civil society organisations, including women's associations, officials of government departments, NGOs and the security agencies at a public forum in Tamale on the draft Domestic Violence Bill.

The forum was to solicit views from stakeholders on the Bill, which seeks to adopt non-violent means of resolving inter-gender, misunderstanding, and to prescribe appropriate sanctions and remedies for perpetrators and victims.

The Minister traced the root causes of most domestic violence to poverty, illiteracy and mistrust among spouses. She drew the attention of the participants to the marital rape issue and urged them to look at it critically and come out with the best alternative suggestions.

"For instance where do we draw the line? At what level do we say a husband has raped his wife?" she asked adding, "such issues may be easily explained in other cultures but we have to be careful in our environment".

Mrs Asmah asked: "should a case like this occur and a husband goes to jail for raping his wife, what happens to that marriage and the children. What happens to the relations between the families of the man and the woman?"

She therefore urged the participants to look at how other cultures had dealt with the issue of domestic violence and explore possibilities of learning from those experiences.

Mr Charles Bintim, Deputy Northern Regional Minister told the participants to seriously discuss the bill saying the traditional outlook and approach to domestic life needed to be reformed.

He noted that because some men had paid high bride price to parents of their spouses they could maltreat the women with impunity. He expressed the hope that if the bill was promulgated into law, it would help reduce the incidence of domestic violence.

Mr Emmanuel K. Musah, a legal practitioner in Tamale who took the participants through sine points of the bill, said the draft legislative proposal if passed into law, would compel both men and women to live harmoniously with their families at home.

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