ActionAid Ghana has organized a stakeholder forum to campaign against gender-based violence (GBV) with particular emphasis on child protection.
The event, held on Thursday May 2, 2019, recorded participation from chiefs, queen mothers, community leaders, women groups, youth groups as well as various stakeholders from CHRAJ, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP).
The forum sought to deepen the understanding and awareness on GBV and child protection by getting participants to reflect on the link between GBV and protection in a given context. By so doing, it is expected that the participating communities would have a good number of men and women who will campaign vigorously against the use of violence as a way of dealing with conflict.
Addressing the forum, the Volta Regional Director of Gender, Mrs. Lena Alai, made an extensive appeal to leaders of society to eschew certain cultural practices and social statutes that engender gender discrimination. She stated that some practices and statements or even proverbs that are unconsciously used in society inadvertently promote a culture of discrimination against women.
“In some communities, the income made by the wife/woman from her own trade would have to be given to the husband/man to determine spending. This, you would agree with me, will affect the women psychologically,” she maintained.
She listed some forms of gender-based violence as domestic violence, sexual assault, commercial sexual exploitation (e.g. prostitution, pornography and trafficking) stalking, early marriage, forced marriage, incest, child sexual abuse, Trokosi, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) etc.
“There are men who most often refuse to look after their children anytime they have issues with their wives. For example you claim you have divorced the woman and so you have no obligation to look after her, yet you leave the children with the woman, and you don’t think you owe a duty to your children by looking after them? Why leave them as burden to the woman alone?” She asked.
Taking his turn, the Regional Director of the Department of Children, Mr. Israel Akrobortu, schooled participants on the child and family welfare policy of Ghana with a focus on the 5 principles in child protection (the 5 Ps).
The policy, according to Mr. Akrobortu, came into force in 2015 as a response to the justified calls by all stakeholders in the child protection sector. He said the call was necessary because the focus of child protection was on the individual child rather than the family as a whole.
“The policy taps into the positive traditional values, principles and protective practices and mechanism of protecting children. It creates a platform to dialogue to prevent child protection abuse while promoting behaviour and social change.
To ensure that the homes, schools and communities are safer and better places for child development and child protection, families and communities have the primary responsibility for keeping children safe from harm,” he said.
“Child protection cannot be a job that is relegated to an authority, be it police, social services or school; child protection is everyone’s responsibility. If children are fully protected in the family setting, school environment and community, they can survive, grow learn and develop to the fullest potential,” he added.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality and continues to be one of the most notable human rights violations within all societies. Gender-based violence is violence directed against a person because of their gender. Both women and men experience gender-based violence but most victims are women and girls.