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Coalition on Domestic Violence Legislation in Ghana writes to President Akufo-Addo

BY: Graphic.com.gh

The Coalition on Domestic Violence Legislation in Ghana has written to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo asking for funding for domestic violence work in Ghana.

The coalition is also asking government to implement the Domestic Violence Act and related legislation and create sexual harassment policies in schools and workplaces in Ghana.

Below is a copy of the letter

The President of Ghana
His Excellency Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo
Jubilee House
Liberation Road, Accra

Your Excellency,

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FUND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WORK IN GHANA, IMPLEMENT THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT AND RELATED LEGISLATION AND CREATE SEXUAL HARRASSMENT POLICIES IN SCHOOLS AND WORKPLACES IN GHANA

Today, in Ghana, a woman was beaten up by a spouse or family member. She is part of the 24% of women in Ghana who are victims of domestic violence, according to UN Women. She struggled past the obstacles of silencing, shaming and stigma, to report the violence to the police. She sought medical care, and at that point, she encountered yet another obstacle. The medical report and rape examination kit had to be paid for, as did the medical care for the injuries she sustained. Unfortunately, she could not access any of these because she did not have money. There were dire consequences because of her inability to pay. She was re-victimized and the necessary evidence required to construct a case was not collected. The Law should have helped her. But the Law did not.

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Mr. President, the Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732), and its corresponding Legislative Instrument Domestic Violence Regulations, 2016 (LI 2237), are supposed to provide the framework within which survivors of domestic violence can access justice and supports, however, this framework has been ineffective on the ground because nothing has been done beyond creating the law. The Act was passed 12 years ago and successive governments have failed to ensure that the agencies and organizations tasked with the responsibility to ensure the management of Domestic violence concerns in the country are functional.

In 2016, one of our members, Martin Kpebu, sued for the activation of the Domestic Violence Fund and the provision of free medical care to victims, as stipulated in Act 732. The High Court (Human Rights Division-2) gave judgment granting these reliefs on 17th March 2017 and gave the government six (6) months to implement the decision. Sadly, to date, your government has not complied with the court orders. It has been almost 2 years to the day, since the High Court gave its judgment. The plaintiff was minded to apply for contempt but held back in hope that implementation was near. That hope has faded away.

Mr. President, you have indicated a commitment to gender and human rights in multiple speeches since your inauguration. However, your action on gender policy does not reflect the commitment within your speeches. Your government has the power to change that right now.

We are a group of non-profit agencies, advocacy groups and individuals, collaborating with the Coalition on Domestic Violence Legislation in Ghana (Domestic Violence Coalition). We are advocating and lobbying for the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732) and the Domestic Violence Regulations, 2016 (LI 2237), as well as for the strengthening of the agencies responsible for their effective implementation. We are also calling for the establishment of sexual harassment and misconduct policies for schools and workplaces.

Mr. President, we write to request that you take the following actions as a matter of urgency, particularly because you are the 2017 AU Gender Champion Award recipient and, more importantly, you are the President of Ghana, charged with ensuring that the rights of all citizens, particularly the most vulnerable, are adequately protected:

1. Instruct the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection to convene the quarterly meetings of the Domestic Violence Management Board (DVMB) in accordance with the stipulations of the Domestic Violence Act, and to present the National Plan of Action against Domestic Violence and the key strategies to prevent and combat domestic violence as directed in the Domestic Violence Act to you for approval before the end of Quarter 2, 2019.

2. Instruct the Minister of Finance to immediately fund the Domestic Violence Fund as provided by the DV LI2237 and in compliance with the High Court order of 17th March 2017. A minimum of GhC500 000 per year is required for this fund.

3. Elevate the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) to a directorate within the Ghana Police Service akin to the position of other state institutions such as the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) and ensure that it has enforcement powers. The DOVVSU currently has investigative powers, but unlike NACOB, DOVVSU does not have specialized status and enforcement powers.

4. Instruct the Minister of Education to immediately initiate the process for the establishment of sexual harassment and misconduct policies for schools. These policies will be the first step in ensuring that the 8% of girls and 3% of boys in schools in Ghana, who experience sexual violence perpetrated by a school authority figure, can be protected by the law.

5. Direct the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to immediately initiate the process to ensure that all workplaces draw up sexual harassment and misconduct policies in accordance with Section 15 (b) of the Labor Act 2003 (Act 651). The establishment of such policies would be in line with the first resolution on sexual harassment that was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on November 20, 2018, to urge all member countries to act to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment.

Mr. President, to quote your words from the 2019 State of the Nation Address: “We must not take our peace and security for granted - not for a moment. Our children and grandchildren will not forgive us if we were to compromise our peace and stability.”

Every single day that this legislation stays unfunded and unimplemented; every single day that these necessary policies remain non-existent, the peace and security of those 24% of women is threatened, as is that of their children. The peace and security of the thousands of children negotiating school corridors and classrooms is also threatened because within the same corridors and classrooms, lurk predators, whose actions go unchecked and unpunished. This is because our laws lack the capacity to provide the protection that was envisaged when they were drafted. Your government has the power to change that right now.

Your Excellency, what we ask for, are our rights, not favours. These rights - our rights - are enshrined in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, in the Domestic Violence Act 2007 (Act 732) and the LI that regulates its implementation (LI 2237) and you, Mr. President, are the custodian of those rights.

Mr. President, it is time to enact these policies, fund and implement this legislation, and communicate clearly to Ghana and to the world that yours is not a leadership of rhetoric, but a leadership that shows commitment to its most vulnerable. Thank you.

SIGNED:


Adolf Awuku Bekoe
Afia Appiah
Prof. Akosua Darkwah
Ama Asubonteng
Dr. Ama Edwin
Dr. Ama Opoku-Agyemang
Dr. Angela Dwamena-Aboagye
Brigitte Dzogbenuku
Charlotte Kwakye-Nuako
Dr. Coretta Jonah
Dorcas Coker-Appiah
Efe Plange
Elizabeth Olympio
Elsie Dickson
Dr. Erica Dickson
Esther Armah
Eugenia Baffour Bankoh
Felicity Nelson
Jemila Abdulai
Dr. Jemima Nunoo
Martin Kpebu
Mawuli Dake
Nana Ama Adom-Boakye
Nana Ama Agyemang Asante
Nana Yaa Ofori-Atta
Patricia Essel
Sara Asafu-Adjaye
Shamima Muslim
Umar Mohammed
Wunpini Mohammed
Yaa Peprah Amekudzi
Yemisi Parker-Osei

Cc
The Hon. Minister Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection

The Hon. Minister Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Department

The Hon. Minister Ministry of Education

The Hon. Minister Ministry of Health

The Hon. Minister Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations

The Hon. Minister Ministry of Local Government

The Hon. Minister Ministry of Interior

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Ghana Police Service Headquarters, Accra

The Chief Director Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection

The Executive Secretary Domestic Violence Secretariat, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection

The National Coordinator Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, Police Headquarters, Accra

The Director Department of Social Welfare