Accra, Feb.2, GNA - Superintendent of Police Elizabeth Dassah, Director of the Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) of the Ghana Police Service, said on Wednesday that the unit recorded 20,137 child abuse cases since its inception in 1998.
Mrs Dassah said the cases were in the areas of child non-maintenance, defilement and indecent assault.
She told Mrs Dorothy Rozga, Country Director of United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), who visited WAJU to familiarise herself with its activities and programmes, that the Unit had recorded a total of 37,720 cases since 1998.
Mrs Dassah said awareness creation had also increased demands on the Unit countrywide, hence the establishment of the Unit in 11 police stations in the regions.
She said the rapid expansion of the Unit had led to the creation of a national secretariat to bring up to standard the services provided in the regions.
Mrs Dassah said UNICEF, Action Aid and UN Gender System had made donations to WAJU in Accra.
She said UNICEF had also provided a vehicle to the WAJU office in Kumasi and a training programme on child labour for 135 police personnel in endemic areas.
Mrs Dassah said the regional WAJU offices lacked skilled personnel and other services like counselling for traumatised victims and the secretariat intended to enhance its institutional support, training of personnel in the area of child labour and commercial sexual exploitation.
She said in line with this objective, the secretariat was preparing a three-year strategic plan together with its collaborators and key implementing partners for the donor community to have access to and fund the programmes.
Mrs Rozga said Ghana was setting a good model for countries in Africa by signing the Convention of the Rights of the Child and was actually out to protect children.
She said the work of WAJU was genuinely appreciated and UNICEF, in collaboration with other donor agencies, would work with the Unit to implement its strategic plan.
Mrs Sophia Torpey, WAJU Commander, said lack of financial support, inadequate training programmes, lack of vehicles and accommodation and shelter for battered women were some of the challenges facing the Unit. She said WAJU would increase its crime prevention activities, adding that for the year 2005 it would organise workshops to sensitise police and women on Domestic Violence Bill, hold outreach programmes in schools, markets, churches, lorry parks as well as durbars with chiefs, queen mothers and opinion leaders.
WAJU staff suggested holistic approach to family issues, creation of WAJU at every police station, one-stop shop for WAJU, including laboratory.