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Opinions of Saturday, 28 November 2020

Columnist: Lawyer Martin Kpebu

Establish the domestic violence support fund - Lawyer Martin Kpebu

The youth have been advised to desist from political violence The youth have been advised to desist from political violence

While thousands of domestic violence and other forms of abuses against women and girls are reported every year in Ghana, thousands of these cases are not prosecuted.

When Ghana passed its domestic violence law in 2007, it promised to set up a fund to help pay for survivors’ medical bills and establish women’s shelters among other uses. But that never happened. In 2015, a renowned private legal practitioner and Director at the Human Rights and Governance Centre, Accra, Lawyer Martin Kpebu, took the government to court on that matter and won.

Judgment was given in March 2017, by the High Court, Human Rights Division. The court ordered the government to operationalize the Domestic Violence Support Fund to help victims of domestic violence. The fund was supposed to be the central pillar of a domestic violence law that was passed in 2007, which though was set up, had little funds - not more than GHS 50,000 and not much was disbursed.

Women’s rights advocates who work closely with abused victims say it is sorely needed. Even as at 2015, The Institute of Development Studies found that 28 percent of Ghanaian women experienced domestic violence. The need for this fund is even greater now, because of the unprecedented upsurge in violence cases against women since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has been about 4 years since Martin Kpebu went to court to force the government, to operationalize the fund, since it was inactive. The order for the operationalization of the fund which will cover the medical bills of domestic abuse survivors and the establishment of shelters that will allow women and children to escape abusive relationships was accordingly made. However, this is yet to be implemented.

Signed Lawyer Martin Kpebu, Human Rights & Governance Cente, Accra-Ghana