Leaving no one behind: UNFPA supports efforts to deal with gender-based violence

BY: Doreen Andoh
Mr Niyi Ojuolape (2nd right), UNFPA Country Representative, explaining the functions of the call centre to some dignitaries and participants when the centre was opened
Mr Niyi Ojuolape (2nd right), UNFPA Country Representative, explaining the functions of the call centre to some dignitaries and participants when the centre was opened

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says it will continue to support the country in its efforts at ensuring the wellbeing of all.

It said that resolve makes the Fund more committed to delivering its three transformative goals of ensuring zero preventable maternal deaths; zero unmet need for family planning, and zero sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices.

The Country Representative of UNFPA, Mr Niyi Ojuolape, together with his colleagues, have led various initiatives to respond to the incidence of Sexual & Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) towards its complete elimination.

As part of initiative, it has set up an SGBV support centre Known as the Orange Support Centre (OSC) to provide comprehensive legal, medical and psychological support, among other services required by victims.

It says it is committed to bringing to zero all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices, especially against women and girls. the initiative will create a safe avenue for survivors of SGBV, to receive timely, coordinated, and reliable support, be it psychosocial, access to legal services, referral to emergency shelters and/or SGBV and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

Mr Ojuolape (NO) discusses with the Daily Graphic (DG) the objects of the centre and the critical role it will play in supporting victims towards a zero SGBV by 2030.
Below are excerpts of the discussions.

Mr Niyi Ojuolape

DG: What prompted the opening of the Orange Support Centre?

NO: The opening of the Centre was predicated on the need to support survivors and victims of SGBV. Within Ghana, we realized that there was no overt platform of support available to victims of Gender-Based Violence across the broad spectrum, which includes, legal, medical and psychological support, among others.

DG: What will the Orange Support Centre be doing differently?

NO: A major platform that admirably exists in the country at the moment is the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, which investigates and prosecutes offenders in cases of SGBV. However, while offenders are brought to book, there is an absence of the other needs of a victim or survivor as the case may be. The Orange Support Centre will be bridging this gap.

In other countries, like Rwanda, they have what we call a ‘One-Stop Centre’ that not only investigates and prosecutes, but also ensures the treatment of Victims medically, physically and emotionally. The Orange Support Centre is the framework for achieving these same ideals and more including the facilitation of shelter, legal support and counselling needs of victims and survivors of SGBV, and by that, we can have a holistic and robust system in place to respond to SGBV.

DG: Who are those you will closely be working with?

NO: First and foremost is the Domestic Violence Secretariat of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. Additionally, based on our preparatory outreach, we have an array of volunteers, currently at around 200 and counting, who are professionals in the medical, legal, psychosocial (counselling) and Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights (SRHR) fields. They are partnering with us so that once a report is made, they are on standby to provide the required support on a pro bono basis. This partnership is being made possible through the good will we have and the outreach to make this possible.

The volunteers are not only individuals but also include organizations. We intend to expand the numbers so that they will be in such numbers that can attend to victims and survivors as the need increases.

DG: What systems are in place to protect the privacy of those who are going to be involved?

NO: The system being used in the Orange Support Centre by design, is one that is wholly confidential. When calls come in, they will be seen as anonymous; the person receiving the call will also be anonymous to the caller. Unless, it is necessary and agreed, confidentiality is always going to be upheld as standard practice.

The Orange Support Centre is actually a support by UNFPA to the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection, through the Domestic Violence Secretariat, who are mandated by law to look at these matters. Personnel who operate the Centre are going to be given periodic training for them to stay up-to-date with industry best practices. The relevant technology will also be provided to ensure that operations are at optimal level.

DG: What innovations will help in the functioning of the Orange Support Centre?

NO: As part of what we call the BOAME Project, through which this Centre has been opened, a mobile App, known as the BOAME App, has also been developed and which is available to all smartphone users. People who download and use the App can easily reach the Orange Support Centre using the app, have access to digital resources that speak to preventing Sexual & Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and also seek counselling. Reports or enquiries can be made using text, video or audio through the App and users can access it openly or anonymously.

DG: How can people reach the Centre for support?

NO: The Orange Support Centre can be reached through either of three avenues. The first is by telephone: 0800 111 222. It is a toll-free number and, therefore, comes at no cost to the caller. Also, a victim can walk-in and access support. The third avenue is through the mobile application called the Boame App. This is understandably for those who are upper scale in literacy and intellect.

DG: What plans are in place for sustainability of the initiative and Centre?

NO: The goal is to have the Government take full charge of the Centre for sustainability. For us in UNFPA, we intend to collaboratively operate the OSC along with the Domestic Violence Secretariat for about a year after which we intend to have the Government take it over fully in terms of financing, staffing and also, orientation of the workers.
We expect to have a regular meeting of minds with the leadership of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection such that the goal of eliminating SGBV in Ghana will be achieved.

DG:Do you have any final words?

NO: We encourage people to patronize the service being offered by the Orange Support Centre. Whether you are the one personally at the receiving end or not, when you see something, say something by reaching out to 0800 111 222 to make a case for somebody who may be a victim.

Writer’s email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.