31.08.2005 Regional News

Criminalisation of Domestic Violence deplored

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Denu, (V/R) Aug. 31, GNA - A section of the participants at a sensitisation seminar on the Domestic Violence Bill (DVB) on Tuesday at Denu, Ketu District, have deplored the attempt by the bill to criminalise domestic problems. They asked for the Bill to, instead preoccupied with the raising of consciousness about the issue in order to induce active participation in changing it.

Other sentiments were the Bill being anti-male, the need for the bill to protect civilians effecting arrest of an offender in domestic violence cases and whether the police could carry out their jobs in such cases under their current capacity.

However, another section comprising mainly Traditional rulers welcomed the bill, saying it could help in putting right the wrongs and injustices suffered by the vulnerable in the family, mainly women and children.

"We are happy for the bill and hope it would be fully implemented when passed to reverse the growing injustices and irresponsibility in the home", Mama Akuabe Adzohlo II, a Queen of Aflao, said.

A Clinical Psychologist, Mr. Adolf Bekoe, speaking on "Domestic Violence and Its Impacts," said many suffer physical or psychological violence from other family relations, often leading to death or permanent disabilities, with 90 percent of the victims being women and children.

He said 95 percent of such cases, including rape, defilement and assaults were committed by family but go unreported under the tendency of covering up, so as to maintain the dignity of the family. Mr. Bekoe, said the Bill was meant to protect the family and urged the people not to cover up such issues, but report the culprits for the necessary actions.

Miss. Joyce Opoku Boateng, a Legal Advisor at the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MOWCA), who spoke on the Draft Domestic Violence Bill, said though violence has been prohibited under the country's laws, impetus was not given to family issues hence the inaction of the communities and the police in handling them.

She said sexual abuse, economic abuse and neglect are but a few of the abuses in the home that the bill took into consideration. "The new bill is empowering the police, informing the community of their responsibilities in protecting all against family violence by reporting such cases," she said.

Mrs. Hillary Gbedemah, a Ho based Legal Practitioner, on the Individual and Community Response to Domestic Violence, called on family members and other close people as well as Traditional Rulers, the Clergy and Social Service providers to counsel and show concern to victims in addition to helping them to report abuse cases.

Hajia Alima Mahama, the Minister of the Women and Children Ministry (MOWCA), in a speech read on her behalf, called for support for the bill, saying it seeks to correct thousands of injustices being suffered daily by the vulnerable, many of which are gender-based.

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