The Centre for Democratic Development-Ghana (CDD-Ghana) and The Ark Foundation have appealed to traditional leaders, opinion leaders and all citizens to desist from attempts to settle domestic violence cases at home.
It said it was the citizen’s duty to report such cases to the police and to ensure that the law took its course and “thereby tackle the scourge of impunity in such cases in our communities.”
This was contained in a joint statement issued by the two organisations in Accra to mark the World Day of Social Justice last Wednesday.
The event is observed on February 20 every year to focus on the plight of social injustice throughout the world and to press for improvements and solutions.
Social justice is a prime necessity in any society to function properly, the idea being that every public service institution should be freely and equally available to all individuals.
The United Nations (UN) initiated the day in 2009, as an awareness day which aims at bringing back the approach of social justice to mind as a measure to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion and unemployment.
In Ghana, the day was observed with a roundtable discussion organised by the Centre for Democratic Development-Ghana (CDD-Ghana) and The Ark Foundation.
The statement indicated that it was through such measures that “we can ensure social justice and promote the rights and dignity of all citizens.”
The statement added that it was relevant to use the occasion to reflect on how social legislations that were passed to address social justice issues were implemented in a manner that satisfied the objectives, as they affected vulnerable persons.
It said one such piece of legislation was the Domestic Violence Act of Ghana whose passage was received with great excitement by many citizens, particularly women.
According to the statement, the excitement was because the Act’s objective was to institute criminal sanctions for perpetrators of domestic violence and offer remedies for domestic violence victims, as well as significantly improve Ghana’s compliance with its international human rights obligations.
Sections of DV Act
It, however, said years after the passage of the Act, government and institutions mandated to comply with the implementation of the Act had not fully done so.
The statement indicated that for example, “Section 9 of the Act 732 instructs that the government to set up the “Victims of Domestic Violence Support Fund” which will seek to support the basic material needs of victims, train the families of victims, rehabilitate and reintegrate victims with families, construct of reception shelters for victims in the regions and districts and training and capacity building of persons connected with the provision of shelter.”
“The CDD-Ghana and The Ark Foundation would like to remind the government to as a matter of urgency provide a report to citizens on the status of implementation and compliance with this particular section as reports of battered women, sexual assault survivors and abused children continue to live in the same environment with those who have allegedly perpetrated heinous crimes against them just because they do not have any safe haven.
“The government must uphold social justice by ensuring that Ghana has functional shelters not only at the national level but also in the regions and the districts as specified by the Act.
These are very critical in ensuring the protection of fundamental human rights and dignity of victims,” the statement stressed.
Call on Parliament
Again, CDD-Ghana and The Ark Foundation called on Parliament to use its oversight responsibility to ensure that the Domestic Violence Fund received reasonable allocation during the reading of the budget.