On 25 November, Ghana launched its 16 Days of Activism Campaign Against Gender Based Violence (GBV) as part of activities to commemorate this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Under the theme “From peace in the home to peace in the world: Let’s challenge militarism to end violence against women”, activities included a national gathering of community leaders and representatives from various organization, both private and public, a visit to Gnani outcast home referred to as “witch camp” and a student symposium.
The national launch was preceded by a procession of women representatives from the public and private sector.
Women and men held placards some of which read “Lets all fight against violence”, “disagreements are rights of opinion” and “wife battering is not a proof of might”.
Deputy Minister of Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MoWAC) Hajia Boya Gariba said that the Government is working together with stakeholders to eliminate GBV, “This 16 days campaign provides an opportunity to reflect on what the Government, in collaboration with other human rights activists, can do to account for and challenge the structures that allow the perpetration of GBV”.
She said this year’s theme is most appropriate for Ghana due to the forthcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections given the link between conflict and gender violence. She urged Ghanaians to be peaceful and to learn from other countries’ conflicts that have led to atrocities against women and children and called on traditional rulers and activists to educate community members to abolish harmful practices like female genital mutilation, witch hunting, forced-marriages, inhuman widowhood rites and Trokosi (religious bondage).
In a goodwill message, the Northern Regional Director of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service urged victims to cooperate with investigation processes to assist in eliminating all forms of violence against women. Officials from UNFPA, UN Women, NGOs and other stakeholders re-affirmed their commitments towards supporting government through initiatives to end violence against women.
Ms. Cynthia Prah of the UN Information Office in Accra read the Secretary General’s message calling on governments to honour their pledges to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
While Ghana has had some successes in sensitizing the public to refrain from causing unnecessary harm to women and girls, violence against women continues. Available statistics from the Ghana Police Service indicate of the 12,906 cases of nationwide violence in 2011, 4,701 were assault on women, 376 rape cases and 1,175defilement of girls.
The 16-day long activities were organized by MoWAC in partnership with a number of organizations, including UNIC Accra, UNFPA and UN Women.