Tamale, March 09, GNA- Research findings indicate that physical abuse of women and children in the Northern Region is on the increase despite efforts to educate the people to desist from such practices. Torture, beatings, the destruction of spousal property and deaths, represent 30 per cent of such abuses, while psychological abuse, which mostly involves humiliation of spouses in public, represents 28 per cent.
Madam Fati Alhassan, a gender rights advocate of Rural Media Network (RUMNET), a local media- oriented NGO, announced this at this year's celebration of the "International Women's Day" in Tamale on Tuesday. She said RUMNET, in collaboration with other organizations undertook a research to assess the incidence of violence against women in the Tamale Metropolis and administered 500 questionnaires to 90 children and 205 each to men and women respectively.
The Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs organized the celebration in collaboration with Northern Coalition on Domestic Violence, a local NGO, and sponsored by SEND FOUNDATION an international NGO.
This year's celebration was under the theme: "Women Inspiring Hope and Possibility".
The research was carried out in Moshie Zongo, Dagbandabifong, Changli, Fuo Village and the SSNIT Flats communities in the Metropolis. Madam Alhassan said the research showed harrowing instances of abuse of women and children, with sexual abuse, including defilement, incest, indecent assault and rape, representing 17 per cent.
Children and adults between the ages of 19 and 24 years were the most affected by this kind of abuse, she said.
The research also indicated that economic and cultural violence representing 25 per cent included forced and early marriages, refusal of partners to live up to their marital responsibilities and food taboos. Madam Alhassan said the situation was worsened by the refusal of the victims of such molestations to report their plight to the appropriate authorities because "they believe it will destroy the image of their families".
She said information gathered from the Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) of the Ghana Police Service in the Northern Region showed that as at October 2004, 118 cases of various forms of abuse of women were reported as against only 57 cases in 2003.
Alhaji Boniface Abubakari Saddique, Northern Regional Minister, in a speech read for him, commended women for the important role they play in the nation's economy, saying that without them majority of the urban workers and individual families could not get their daily means of survival.
He said the issue of gender equality was necessary for the reduction of poverty and the achievement of the goals of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS), adding that about 70 per cent of people engaged in food production were women.
Alhaji Saddique, however entreated women to fight for their rights since they cannot achieve parity with their male counterparts on a silver platter.
"Gender equality has to be fought for and won not through force of arms, but through the might of the pen," he said.
The Regional Minister encouraged women to embrace the President's Special Initiatives on agriculture to improve their economic well-being. Mr Dajiah Iddrisu, Northern Regional Director of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, (CHRAJ) said perpetrators of many of the violations against women justified their actions in the name of custom and tradition.
He said women had suffered indignities since time immemorial in all civilisations where they were regarded as inferior to men and had been secluded to play particular roles in society.
He said modern trends did not support the marginalisation of women and appealed to the relevant authorities to integrate human rights into the school curriculum of second cycle institutions to enable the students to appreciate the rights of women and children and fight for such rights. Mr Joseph Wilson, the Regional Crime Officer asked women to report rape cases promptly to WAJU for the necessary action.