The Director of the Department in the Upper West Region, Mrs Charity Banye, has appealed to parents and chiefs to promptly report sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) to the appropriate quarters for action.
She said the department would continue to work with individuals, especially opinion leaders, and organisations to seek justice for victims of SGBV, by ensuring that perpetrators of crime, particularly against women and children, were punished, to serve as deterrent to others.
Mrs Banye made the call at a meeting with stakeholders, including chiefs, teachers and girl-child desk officers at Wa, on Monday, noted that SGBV has escalated after the emergence of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown.
“Some adolescent girls according to a survey last year were married off after getting pregnant irrespective of their age. This is not very welcoming news because some of the girls were even defiled whereas others indulged in sexual relations out of curiosity or peer pressure and were not necessarily ready for marriage,” she said.
Mrs Banye indicated that based on the report, the department was supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to embark on advocacy campaign to educate the people of the region on SGBV issues,such as assault, causing harm, rape, defilement, abduction, female circumcision.
“We have been doing this for some time now, but we seek to intensify it due to the urgency of the reports received from certain areas on the menace.We are not stopping any time soon until we are able to restore sanity in affected communities,” she said.
The Regional Commander of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Adongo Apiiya educated the participants on laws and regulations that promote the welfare of children and protect them from all forms of abuse.
He noted that women and girls were vulnerable in the face of outmoded traditions and customs.
ASP Apiiya said “In instances of child marriage, we are by law directed to arrest anyone who consented to or witnessed the marriage ceremony”.
Young girls, constituted to pursue child abuse cases in communities in the Wa Municipality, Nadowli-Kaleo, Wa East, Wa West, Daffiama-Bussie-Issah and Lambussie districts, also attended the meeting.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA