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General News of Friday, 12 March 2010

Source: GNA

Africa Legal Aid setting up Gender Network Forum

Accra, March 12, GNA - Africa Legal Aid (AFLA), an Accra-based non-governmental

organisation (NGO) is establishing a Gender Network Forum in co-operation=

with a core

group of organisations and individuals on the Continent. The forum will provide legal assistance to women in litigation on gender -based

violence; request for advisory opinions from the African Court on Human a= nd Peoples'

Rights and take up test cases, either directly or by assisting others to do so. Mrs Evelyn A. Ankumah, Executive Director of AFLA, made this known i= n Accra at a

seminar on: "The Ghana Domestic Violence Act and Contemporary forms of Violence

against Women: Commemorating International Women's Day." She spoke on: "A Policy Agenda for Gender Justice," at the seminar organised by

AFLA in collaboration with the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative

Justice. Mrs Ankumah said the NGO was establishing an interactive website to create online

direct communication with the steering committee of the forum in a timely=

and cost

efficient manner. The steering committee will formulate principles and policies to exp= and the list of

offences that constitute gender crimes. The body will also emphasise the African perspective to be used for advocacy and

lobbying initiatives at the national, regional and international levels. Mrs Ankumah said AFLA was proposing a convention for the prevention and

punishment of crimes against humanity to complement the statute of the International

Crime Court (ICC). "With respect to gender, there are a number of offences that fall through the cracks

because they are neither addressed in a national legislation or in the statute of the

ICC. When they are addressed they are not implemented."

Mrs Ankumah noted that gender-based crimes, which are on the rise bu= t do not

receive sufficient attention in Africa and more generally in South Africa= , include

gendered violence perpetrated through the media. "Forced marriage although recognised as a crime on paper is not implemented and

the gendered aspect is ignored. "Contemporary forms of slavery is recognised on paper but not implemented and the

gendered aspect is ignored. "Gender violence in sports is hardly addressed. There is the need t= o define sexual

violence and adopt a holistic approach to combating violence against wome= n in all its

forms." Mrs Ankumah said there was a notable increase in numbers of women wh= o have risen

to positions of governance due to the global awareness about gender justi= ce, citing post

-conflict Rwanda, which boasts almost of 50 per cent of women in Parliament, the

highest in any country of the worldwide. She said however, women continue to be violated, targeted, scorned a= nd disparaged,

at all levels of society, and through crude and sophisticated means. The Executive Director said AFLA sought to mainstream gender in all=

its activities,

including strengthening the justice sectors in Africa and contributing th= e much needed

African perspectives to international and gender justice.