Ghana has marked the first International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict with a call on stakeholders to help end violence against women and children.
The day was set aside in 2015 by the United Nations (UN) to raise awareness about the need to stop conflict-related sexual violence while paying tribute to the victims that had suffered diverse forms of such abuses.
It was celebrated to coincide with this year’s World Refugee Day marked to advocate better livelihood for refugees across the globe.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ forum in Accra yesterday, the Head of Research Monitoring and Evaluation at the National Population Council (NPC), Efua Kwaambaa Turkson underscored the need for stakeholders to double efforts towards eradicating sexual violence in the country.
According to her, it had been estimated globally that about one out of three representing 35 to 70 per cent of women were faced with physical or sexual violence while majority of them suffer same beginning from childhood or adolescence.
She indicated that one-third of adolescent girls below 16 years old in some countries including Lesotho, Egypt, Botswana, Tunisia and Uganda reported of forced sexual initiation adding that “in Ghana there were about 1.3 million women including girls faced with the menace”.
Mrs. Turkson said though Ghana had over the years made some strides in the fight against violation of women and children’s rights, government still recognizes the need to do more to end abuses against women particularly girls through concerted efforts with stakeholders.
Consequently, she said the council together with its partners had been promoting equality for women through the implementation of existing laws that safeguard the rights of women in the country.
She noted that the NPC, as a coordinating agency, continue to create the supporting environment for executing programmes, activities and interventions on the fight against sexual violence.
That, she said, would go a long way not only to enhance the livelihood of women and children but reduce sexual violence drastically over the next few years.
An Eligibility Officer of the Ghana Refugee Board, Doris Tagoe, urged the public to avoid abuses against refugees,who have settled in various refugee camps across the country.
Recalling a situation in which a Sudanese woman, settled in the country after being abused sexually on many occasions during the Darfur war, Mrs. Tagoe chided perpetuators of such acts and called for tougher punishment against them.
She recounted how the Sudanese was raped by three armed robbers in front of her three and six year-old daughters during pregnancy saying “the robbers also killed the brother -in-law leaving her in a devastated and traumatised state to run to Ghana”.
“One way we can drastically reduce these abuses was to make sure we do our best to prevent conflicts. We therefore call for peace ahead of the 2016 general elections. It is our hope that we, as a country, will continue to live in peace and stability after the elections,” she said.
By Charles Amankwa and Rebecca Kajelo