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Regional News of Friday, 16 October 2015

Source: GNA

Market women get gender violence centre

The Domestic Violence Secretariat (DVS), has inaugurated a Gender- Based Violence Response Centre (GBVRC) for market women at Mallam Atta Market in Accra.

The establishment of the GBVRC is to increase survivor safety and perpetrator accountability by coordinating and linking core services to the market women, Madam Juliana Amponsah, Chief Programmes Officers, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP) stated in Accra on Thursday.

She noted that immediate health care, access to police and legal services as well as the promotion of culturally and age counselling were among the objectives that accounted for the establishment of the GBVRC.

Madam Amponsah observed that the DVS, being a secretariat under MOGCSP, had the mandate of providing services and education to women, children and victims of Gender Based Violence (GBV) according to a basic set of guiding principles that would help put in place mechanisms towards the prevention of GBV in the country.

She indicated rape, sexual assault, physical assault and psychological abuses among others as some of the types of GBV women mostly faced in their daily lives.

Madam Amponsah said the initiative which was a model is being carried out in the various markets with Mallam Atta Market women being the second to benefit from it.

“The response team will receive cases, handle those they can deal with, refer cases to appropriate agencies for redress and do follow ups on clients so they can have a logical conclusion of each case.

“And their work schedule will be on Thursdays, but it will be every two weeks in a month,” Madam Amponsah said.

She however called for adequate education, provision of information, advocacy, safety and the ensuring of referral services like sexual violence health services, psycho-social support and legal advice to all victims of GBV.

Ms Victoria Natsu, Acting Executive Secretary, DVS, said GBV exists in many societies and in every country; statistics from United Nations Population Fund showed that one in three women would be subjected to physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime.

She said an in-depth study on violence against women conducted by the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre indicated that one in three Ghanaian women suffer from physical violence at the hands of a past or current partner.

“Three in 10 Ghanaian women admit to having been forced to have sex by their male partners and 27 per cent of women have experienced psychological abuse, including threats, insults and destruction of property,” she said.

Ms Natsu noted that around the world, GBV impacted negatively on the lives of thousands of women, girls and their families and that was the reason the MOGCSP through the DVS as part of its mandate to implement the Domestic Violence Act was establishing the coordinated GBVRC as one of the strategies in the Domestic Violence National Plan of Action to encourage people to come forward without any intimidation or hindrance.

“It is our hope that bringing this Coordinated Response Centres to the market places will encourage people to seek support for their challenges confronting them and also report abuse and violence without fear,” she said.

According to Ms Natsu, Ghana like many other countries in Sub Saharan Africa, continue to experience high rates of GBV, which manifest itself in multiple forms and involves a wide variety of perpetrators ranging from intimate partners and family members.

She attributed the high rate of GBV in the country to urbanisation, the continuous spate of head porters, in the various market centers and the poor living conditions of vulnerable girls.

The Acting Executive Secretary of DVS therefore called for the building of confidence in vulnerable persons including women, girls and children as an intervention that would ensure that services in respect of GBV were available and accessible to survivors.

Asofoamye Ogbedee II, Queenmother, Mallam Atta Market, advised women to accept the services of the team and collaborate with them effectively as that would help to control the fight against violence against women.

She lauded the MOGCSP and DVS for extending their services to them through informed engagement.

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