11.04.2005 Regional News

Minister calls on WAJU Director

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Accra, April 11, GNA - Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWAC), on Monday advocated for the institution of counselling services at the Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) for perpetrators of various crimes reported at the unit.

She said the perpetrators equally needed counselling sessions just as the victims to reform them while the law takes its due course. Hajia Mahama said this when she paid a working visit to WAJU to acquaint herself with the activities and constraints of the unit. WAJU, though a very sensitive unit is faced with inadequate office space, skilled managerial staff, office equipment, shelter and victim support fund.

She said her Ministry alone could not resolve the numerous constraints but would collaborate with the donor communities to solicit funds to improve upon the facilities and resources at the unit. The Minister said for every business to thrive, there should be the rule of law and called on corporate businesses to live up to their social responsibilities and support organizations such as WAJU to maintain peace and order for businesses to flourish.

"Business cannot thrive without peace and order and it is time for corporate businesses to sit up and support this worthy course." Hajia Mahama said she hoped that the Domestic Violence Bill would be presented to Parliament early to ensure passage this year. "For the fact that the bill was proposed by the then Attorney General showed government's commitment and we are all hoping that it will be passed this year to protect those who are suffering silently in their homes," she added.

She also called for the early passage of the Human Trafficking Bill to protect the rights of children against child slavery, especially in the fishing communities.

Superintendent Elizabeth Dassah, National Director of WAJU, said since its inception in 1998, WAJU had so far handled over 40,000 cases comprising defilement, rape, assault/wife battery, indecent assault, abduction, kidnapping and criminal abortion among others.

She said WAJU was developing a five-year strategic plan with input from their implementing partners such as CHRAJ, Centre for Gender Development and rights-based NGOs like the Ark Foundation and WISE to deal with the constraints facing the unit.

Supt. Dassah called for an urgent need to secure office space and logistics for WAJU throughout the country to enable the unit handle the increasing rape and defilement cases.

Madam Sophia Dorpe, Accra Regional Director, WAJU, said this year alone the unit had recorded 843 rape and defilement cases. She said out of the number, 94 cases were school children defiled by either adults or teenage boys. She, therefore, called for a support fund to run the unit adequately.

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