Mrs Mercy Acquah-Hayford, the National Coordinator of Inerela+ Ghana, a non-governmental organisation, has called for a scrap of medical fees charged for examination on survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
She said the practice delayed justice for survivors of gender based violence.
“The government should come out with a policy to make these medical examinations free because the survivors are already traumatised and then you are asked to pay GH¢ 500 or more. Where are they going to get the money from? So, most people take forms and they don’t return to the police station to continue the case.
When we do that, supposing he or she is exposed and do not get post-exposure prophylaxis within the first two hours in the 72 hours window period, we end up with more HIV infection in the system,” she said.
Mrs Acquah was speaking at a community durbar in Maamobi in the Ayawaso East Municipality of the Greater Accra region as part of activities to mark this year’s 16 days activism against gender-based violence.
The annual campaign, started on November 25 and ending on December 10, advocates the elimination of all forms of violence against women.
Despite provisions in Ghana’s Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732) section 8 (3) which provides that survivors of sexual and gender-based violence access free medical treatment in state health institutions, the reverse is the case.
At present, survivors are reportedly forced to pay between GH¢300 and GH¢1,500 for consultation, medical examination and treatment depending on scope of investigations in order to complete police medical forms.
Mrs. Acquah, said although Ghana has made some progress in the last 30 years of activism on GBV, a lot more could be done to nip it in the bud.
She called for concerted efforts in reviewing some negative cultural and traditional norms in the society as well as strengthen social protection interventions to empower women and girls to live up to their full potential.
HIV/AIDS Ambassador, Reverend John Azumah decried the resurgence of HIV especially among children and adolescents in the country.
“Currently, we have more than 50,000 children living with HIV in Ghana and a large chunk of persons living with the virus are between 15 and 40 years,” he said.
Rev. Azumah said negative societal perceptions brewing stigma and discrimination continued to discourage people from testing to know their status and taking measures to adopt healthy lifestyles to halt spread of the virus.
He called for intensified HIV/AIDS education to reduce spate of new infections and accelerate Ghana’s efforts at attaining the 2030 UNAIDS target.
As part of the durbar, some selected survivors of domestic violence in the community who have received skills training in millinery from Inerela+Ghana were outdoored and awarded certificates.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH