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Implement free medical care for domestic violent victims — FIDA

BY: Juliet Akyaa Safo
free medical care
Madam Afua Adotey, President, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Ghana addressing participants at the forum. Picture: EDNA SALVO-KOTEY

The President of the Federation of Women Lawyers Ghana (FIDA), Mrs. Afua Adotey, has called on the government to rigorously implement the Domestic Violence Act, ACT 723.

She said the Domestic Violence Act, ACT 723, Section 8, indicated that medical care for domestic violent victims should be free, and that it was illegal for health institutions to take money from such victims.

“After 14 years of the passage of the Domestic Violence Act, people are still paying money at medical centres when the law expressly says that it should be free; once money is paid at these medical centres, it clearly shows that it is illegal and we should hold the Ministry of Health accountable.

“We should also go beyond discussions and make a case of one doctor who takes money from a survivor for whatever reason in a medical centre. I think it is time for lawyers to sue on these matters, which I believe will address this in the shortest possible time,” she said.

Ms. Adotey was speaking at a forum in Accra last Friday organised by FIDA in collaboration with Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), an advocacy organisation.

It was on the theme: “Implementation of free medical health care, a lifeline for women and girls survival from domestic violence”.

Domestic violent cases

Mrs. Adotey said 10 reported murders had already been recorded from March to April as a result of spousal and intimate partner violence.

“Clearly this is a national pandemic and it should be given the necessary consideration as was given to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
She said FIDA Ghana had increased awareness on domestic violence over the years but there was still more to be done.

Speak up

Delivering findings on a FIDA and OSIWA project dubbed: Sustaining Actions on Enhanced Violence (SAVE), the Programmes Manager of FIDA, Ms. Nolle Appiah, indicated that majority of people were not aware of the Domestic Violence Act and also ways to go about reporting an abuse case.

She also revealed that most survivors did not pursue abuse cases because they had no money to pay for their medical bills.

Ms. Appiah recommended the inclusion of protection and occupation orders in domestic violent cases and the need for police prosecutors to solely handle domestic violence cases.

Mr. Appiah also encouraged survivors to speak up so they could get the needed support.

Funds

Speakers at the forum also reiterated the call on the government to implement the Domestic Violence Act and also ensure that the perpetrators were punished for their acts.

They also asked that adequate funds be provided to resource health institutions to facilitate the endorsement of medical reports for victims.

The speakers were the Executive Director for the Women’s Alliance, Ms. Regina Kwansah; a Member of FIDA, Irene Aborchie Nyahe; the Medical Doctor at the Madina Polyclinic, Dr. Michael Atisu, and Lafifa Saddick of the Domestic Violence Secretariat of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.