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28.02.2006 General News

Parliament urged to pass Domestic Violence Bill

By GNA

Axim (W/R), Feb 28, GNA - Participants at a one-day workshop on the Domestic Violence Bill at Axim on Monday called on Parliament to pass the bill into law.

The participants at the workshop organised by the Western Regional Office of the Department of Women included teachers, market women and representatives of women organisations and students. They said the bill could stem rape especially in the home, non-maintenance of children, teenage pregnancy and irresponsible parenthood.

The participants said Parliament should not "Throw the bill overboard because of opposition in some quarters of the section on marital rape". They said the bill was not concerned with only marital rape and that section covers extreme cases of the use of force by couples to have sex with the partner.

''It is not true that the bill is in conflict with Ghanaian culture. The bill protects everybody and advised.''

Miss Jane Edna Nyame, the Western Regional Director of the Department of Women, said the Domestic Violence Bill was not a tool to empower women to misbehave towards their husbands as it is being perceived in some circles.

She said the bill would curb violence against everybody including men, women, the aged, boys, girls and children in the society. "Assault, battery, cruel and widowhood rites, among others, are prohibited under the Consolidation of the Criminal Code 1960, Act 29". "Unfortunately, our society and culture do not permit the law to deal with violence that occur within our homes, between relatives and people within the home by not treating them seriously".

Nana Yamfoah Amua-Sekyi, Acting Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), said the country's law is inadequate for dealing with domestic violence and the provisions of the Criminal Code do not take domestic relationship into account. She said the only sanction provided under the criminal code is imprisonment, which is not adequate.

Nana Amua-Sekyi said the criminal code still contains an archaic English Law, which justified the use of force in marriage. She said, "This section is a violation of the fundamental human rights of parties in marriage and goes contrary to the constitution of Ghana and all the international conventions to which Ghana has lent its full support".

Nana Amua-Sekyi said the Bill provides that the courts can issue protection orders to prevent a person from carrying out a threat of domestic violence or from committing further acts of domestic violence.

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