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Let’s end violence against women, girls with disability — Activists

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe & Linda Sah
Some members of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations and other officials  after the meeting. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR
Some members of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations and other officials after the meeting. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR

Disability rights activists have called on the government to strengthen state institutions, legal regimes and policies that will help to end gender-based violence against women and girls with disabilities.

The activists said violence against women and girls with disabilities deepened their marginalisation and denied them the enjoyment of fundamental human rights.

Again, they said although gender-based violence cut across all females, it was pervasive among women and girls with disabilities who were more vulnerable because of their peculiar situation.

The activists included a Deputy Director of Public Education at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mawuli Avutor; the President of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFD), Mawunyo Yakor-Dagbah; the President of the Ghana Blind Union (GBU) at Ningo District, Atiko Naomi; and the Chairperson of Inclusion Ghana, Mary Amoah.

In separate statements at a national forum on gender-based violence against women and girls with disabilities held in Accra, they stressed that failure by duty-bearers to deal with gender-based violence against women and girls with disabilities would deprive them the dignity they deserved as human beings.

The forum was organised by the GFD as part of the 16-day activism against gender-based violence, a global campaign to commemorate the victims of gender-based violence, celebrate survivors and to raise awareness, as well as stimulate advocacy efforts for fighting the canker.

State institutions

The deputy CHRAJ public education director said given that gender-based violence constituted human right issues, it was important for the government to take the lead in protecting women and girls with disabilities against such violation of their rights.

Mr Avutor said it was important to strengthen organisations that were responsible for protecting human rights so that they could be well-positioned to protect women and girls against violence.

He also stressed the need for law enforcement agencies to promptly investigate and deal with perpetrators of gender-based violence against women and girls with disabilities.

"It is the responsibility of the state to train the staff of law enforcement agencies to be able to deal with issues of gender-based violence against women and girls with disabilities," he said.

Mr Avutor also called for stakeholders to work together to create awareness on gender-based violence against women and girls with disabilities.

Law enforcement

For her part, Yakor-Dagbah underscored the need for laws on gender-based violence to be revamped and enforced religiously to protect women and girls with disability.

She said although Ghana had adopted inclusive pieces of legislation and policies, there remained implementation setbacks that needed to be addressed to help deal with gender-based violence against women and girls with disabilities.

"Efforts to end violence against women and girls with disabilities appear to have been undermined by inadequate evidence and under-recognition. We need to break these barriers," she stressed.

Ms Yakor-Dagbah said the GFD would continue to work with other stakeholders to promote the rights and dignity of women and girls with disabilities.

Dignity

Ms Amoah appealed to members of the public to respect women and girls with disability rather than treat them as though they were less human.

Ms Atiko also said it was crucial for relations of women and girls with disability to give the needed support to such persons to make them feel a sense of belongingness.