09.05.2005 Regional News

Police officers schooled on rights of women and children

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Accra, May 9, GNA - The Police have been asked to enforce laws that deal with violence against women and children so as to protect their rights.

Speaking at a two-day workshop to sensitise selected Police Officers within the Accra Metropolis; Ms Josephine Kpebah from the National Population Council (NPC) said it was of no use to have laws, which were honoured more in their breach than in their observance. She, therefore, called for well-targeted advocacy and behavioural change strategies and interventions aimed at getting communities and individuals to appreciate the value of abstaining from practices which society generally abhorred.

National Population Council under United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) sponsored the workshop in collaboration with the Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) of the Police Service.

The workshop forms part of a series aimed at sensitising Police personnel on the activities of WAJU and to equip them with skills to respond to the needs of women and children as desk officers. Mr David Asante-Apeatu, Director of the Criminal Investigations Department, in a speech read for him, said women and children formed three-quarters of the country's population and the protection of their rights was critical to national development.

"Women and children, who are a potential human resource of the country, are abused with careless abandon thereby impacting negatively on their health and mental psyche," he said.

Mr Asante-Apeatu said statistics in 2003 revealed that within a period of nine months, 2,502 women were abused while non-maintenance of children and sexually abused children accounted for three-quarters of cases received countrywide.

This trend, he said, could not be allowed to continue as it affected the development and participation of women as productive members of the economy as well as the education of children. Ms Elizabeth Dassah, Director of WAJU, said WAJU and its partners had done a lot to alleviate the suffering of women and children, who otherwise suffered in silence.

She said the Greater Accra Region was the first to be selected for the workshop because their stations were strategically located in violence-prone communities where women and children, due to their social status, tended to be more vulnerable to abuse.

She, therefore, urged the participants to refresh their knowledge on how to handle victims of abuse while dealing with their biases. Mrs Angela Dwamena-Aboagye, the Executive Director of the Ark Foundation, a nongovernmental organisation, stressed the need to train the Police to enable them to stop violence at the early stage before they turned into murders and other vices.

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