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General News of Saturday, 19 January 2019

Source: Joseph Kobla Wemakor

Let our collective comments, actions support calls to end sexual, gender based violence - Samira to Ghanaians

The Second Lady of Ghana, Samira Bawumia has charged all Ghanaians especially those working in various fields to end sexual and gender based violence including harmful practices in the country to be very circumspect in their everyday comments, actions and attitudes and ensure its synergy to engender the needed support to achieve result.

“Our collective comments should really support our agenda and our advocacy more importantly should cut across all facets of our lives. It is not only when you’re in a meeting or at work that you should exhibit it but it should reflect in our everyday life”.

Samira Bawumia made this known at the inaugural general meeting of the Coalition of Persons Against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices (CoPASH) in Accra on January 18 at the plush Movenpick Ambassador Hotel on January 17.

The meeting which is the first of its kind since the launch of CoPASH in August last year was an avenue to share thoughts and ideas and receive feedback and recommendations to be implemented in an attempt to end SGBVs and harmful practices in the country.

In attendance were human right activists, gender specialists, government officials, UN Organizations officials, students, teachers, various representatives of Civil Society Groups and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the country including members of CoPASH.

Making her views known on the kind of attitude to adapt to achieve results of ending the fight, Her Excellency the second Lady of Ghana, Samira Bawumia, Mrs. Samira Bawumia called on all Ghanaians to make use of every available opportunity at their disposal to teach others the way to live so as not to fall either fall a victim or become a perpetrator of the any crime related to Sexual and Gender Based Violence and Harmful Practices.

"Let's know what we stand for and use any given opportunity to teach others so we can change the society together".

Mrs. Bawumia, already a staunch advocate championing the cause of empowering women, children and youth in the country through diverse social intervention projects to improve lives which led to her earlier formation of the Samira Empowerment & Humanitarian Projects (SEHP), a not-for-profit organisation said she developed interest in the fight against sexual and gender based violence and harmful practices upon realizing that violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world and women and adolescent girls in Ghana are particularly vulnerable to sexual and gender based violence and harmful practices.

“After learning this, I knew something must be done”.

She averred that was what informed her decision to partner UNFPA to launch CoPASH in last year to end the menace in the country.

While commending members and various stakeholders present for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend the meeting and for demonstrating their commitment towards the fight, Her Excellency, Samira Bawumia said: “At the heart of CoPASH, we provide the platform so all of you can engage. Each of you in your own capacities as individuals and institutions in area of SGBVHPs prevention matters. So because you provide different expertise so that is really the idea so we can work together and get the end result”.

UNFPA Ghana Country Representative, Mr. Niyi Ojuolape also speaking at the meeting assured of his outfit commitment at all times to promote gender equity through advocacy towards ending sexual and gender based violence for the betterment of Ghana.

He averred that the prevalence of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Ghana calls for stakeholders’ togetherness to end it. This, according to him include child marriage, child trafficking, Female Genital Mutilation(FGM), incest and rape among others.

At the meeting, various stakeholders who took turns to express their views demonstrated their commitment to support the CoPASH to achieve its agenda in ending sexual and gender based violence and harmful practices in the country.

Present among stakeholders who demonstrated their willingness to support the CoPASH agenda include the Ghanaian afro-pop, dancehall and reggae artiste, Emmanuel Andrews Samini known by his stage name Samini.

“I think many cases about Domestic and Sexual Health abuses go unreported due to pressures from family, shame or fear of being stigmatized and I believe that this shouldn’t be the case”.

“It is my passion to see that victims are given the platform to denounce perpetrators who are often close relatives and to ensure rehabilitation and support for survivors, Samini who also doubles as the founder of Obimbra Foundation, (an NGO that provides physical, mental & financial support to victims of sexual abuse) said while commending the Second Lady and UNFPA for creating CoPASH to combat sexual and gender based violence in the country.

With the universal goal of ending sexual and gender based violence, CoPASH is expected to spearhead a coordinated national response to issues of SGBV and harmful practices in Ghana through advocacy, awareness raising, collaboration with other stakeholders to shed more light on issues of rape and domestic violence and other harmful practices and to bring about sustainable solutions.

CoPASH currently has a membership of more than 200 people from across the country. These include legal practitioners, gender specialists, students, teachers, men and women alike and everyday citizens who want to see change in the country.

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