As the world marks International Day for the elimination of sexual violence in conflict, the government has been called upon to continue to safeguard Ghana from conflicts and its associated negative consequences, which mostly affect women and children.
“Although Ghana has not experienced the magnitude of conflict and civil wars that have destroyed neighbouring countries, we are of the view that it is extremely important that we safeguard the peace and stability that the country is enjoying especially in this election year. Violence is not inevitable. It can be prevented,” Hope for Future Generation (HFFG), an NGO has said.
The UN General Assembly in June 2015, approved by consensus, a new resolution to commemorate June 19, every year as the International Day of the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.
The Day was set aside to boost effort in the global fight against the horrors faced by women and girls in zones of conflict worldwide.
At a stakeholders’ forum in Accra on Monday, HFFG in collaboration with Palladium Group, the National Population Council (NPC) and the Society for Women in Law and Development met with other stakeholders to commemorate the Day and to discuss the issues of sexual and gender based violence in Ghana.
Dr Daniel Dotse, Deputy Executive Director of HFFG, said in Ghana several cases of sexual violence have been reported by the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Police Service.
He said a number of instances of sexual violence, some related to domestic violence, and others arising from temporal hot conflict zones have been documented as well.
In 2014, 1,296 girls were defiled whilst recorded cases of rape increased from 290 in 2012 to 342 in 2014, according to DOVVSU.
Additionally, one in five women in Ghana (19 per cent), aged 15- 49 has experienced sexual violence, while defilement continues to be on the rise, accounting for around 66 per cent of all sexual offences reported to DOVVSU.
“Therefore at this forum we will like to draw the attention of the government, chiefs, religious bodies and all in our society to the consequences of violence against women and children during conflicts all over the world,” Dr Dotse said.
He said his organisation would also continue to partner relevant organisations and donors to continue to empower women and girls to access services in sexual and reproductive health rights which is in line with the Sustainable Development Goal Six.
Mr David Logan, Team Leader of the Ghana Adolescent Reproductive Health Project, Palladium Group said while women should be committed to the fight and prevention against sexual violence, boys and men need to be engaged in ending the menace.
He also called on all partners to engage more boys and men as main perpetrators of sexual violence to educate them on the effects on victims and how that affects overall society.
Ms Efua Turkson, Head of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation of National Population Council, said sexual violence continues to be perpetrated globally, especially, in conflict zones, and in Ghana, cases continue to be recorded.
She said it is important that stakeholders intensify their awareness creation as well as empowerment of girls and women for them to be able to guard against abusers.
Ms Deborah Kwablah, Behavioural Change Advisor of Palladium Group, called on the media to help educate the society about sexual violence as well as empowering girls to stand and defend themselves.