A resource centre has been opened at the Agbogbloshie Market in Accra to provide victims of sexual and gender-based violence in the area with the needed support.
Victims of gender-based violence and other social vices can walk to the centre, named Rapid Response Centre, to get help for access to justice, health care and other forms of social support.
Funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Canadian Government, the setting up of the centre is an initiative of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
It will be managed by five persons selected from the community, including market women who have been trained in para-legal services, with support from staff of the ministry and members of the Domestic Violence Management Board, the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service and the Department of Social Welfare.
Speaking at the opening of the centre, the Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Freda Prempeh, said records indicated that sexual and gender-based violence, which was one of the serious human rights violations perpetrated in the home and other human settings, was on the rise in the country.
“Although anybody can be affected, women and girls are the most affected.
Research has shown that one out of every three women randomly selected, has experienced some form of violence in his or her lifetime,” she said.
Ms Prempeh said the Ministry did not only consider sexual and gender-based violence as a social canker but a developmental challenge which affected a number of Ghanaians and their contribution to the development of the nation.
She urged residents and traders at Agbogbloshie and its environs not to tolerate or treat violence against women and girls as a private matter that should be discussed at home and urged them to “break the silence and the cycle of violence”.
Violence and discrimination, she said was “prohibited in Ghana”, and cited some legislations and regulations that were against sexual and gender-based violence and other forms of abuses.
She mentioned the 1992 Constitution, the Children’s Act (Act 560), the revised Criminal Offences Act 1960, the Domestic Violence Act (Act 732), the Code of Professional Conduct of the Ghana Education Service and Human Trafficking Act, 2005, among others.
A Programmes Coordinator of the UNFPA, Dr Esi Awotwi, said the support from UNFPA and the Canadian Government was to facilitate the provision of help to victims of violence and indicated that gender-based violence undermined the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims.
The Accra Regional Coordinator of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU), Superintendent of Police, Ms Alice Awarikaro, urged victims of domestic violence and other abuses in the area to make use of the one-stop-shop which had been brought closer to their door step.
“Assault, abuse, rape and defilement cases must be reported so that the perpetrators will be made to face the law in order to serve as deterrent to others.
Such cases must not be addressed on the blind side of the law. We are here for you and so help us make the law effective,” She said.
The Assistant Director of the Department of Social Welfare, Ms Victoria Bishoff, said the department was available to help patrons of the centre who had issues related to family welfare such as issues of custody and family reconciliation with counselling and the necessary interventions.
Later, the five para legals to man the centre, comprising two men and three women, were commissioned.
They were Madam Hajiara, Ms Afriyie Amankwah and Ms Elisabeth Botwe, all traders at the Abgobgloshie Market.
The rest are Mr Mohammed Salifu who operators a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and Mr Alhasan Muaz, a teacher.