The Executive Director of Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG), Joseph Wemakor, recently discussed the issue of domestic violence and spousal killings in Ghana in an interview on the “Y3 SENE S3N” morning show with the host, Kojo Nsaah-Kwao, popularly known as “The General,” on the Techiman-based Globe TV.
Wemakor talked about the prevalence of domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, in Ghana and the need for authorities to prioritize protecting victims during the interview, which was conducted via Zoom on Thursday, June 15, 2023.
He pointed out that many spousal abuse victims are reluctant to come forward and report the abuse due to a fear of reprisals from their abusers.
The HRRG’s boss equally addressed the alarming trend of killings in Ghana, particularly those of women, and emphasized the necessity for authorities to take action to put a stop to these incidents and bring the offenders to justice.
In response to the question of whether Ghana’s Domestic Violence Act 2007 (Act 732) is fully operational or deficient, he insisted that it is up to the task, but he blamed the Ghana Police Service for not enforcing the law, an action that is impeding the country’s efforts to combat domestic violence.
“I believe the Domestic Violence Act is in effect, but the officers in charge of that department are not on the job.
“They use their own judgment to resolve any problems that are improperly reported to them. You’ll be shocked to learn that the police often tell the abused woman that the reason her husband is mistreating her is due to her character when she goes to the police station to file a complaint”, he said.
Additionally, he lamented the practice of a culture of silence impeding efforts where family members, including religious or faith leaders, particularly pastors of the abused person, will advise him or her to go back into the abusive home to try and secure the marriage at all costs due to embarrassment, knowing full well the danger.
He called for the men in the uniforms to be adequately trained and informed about how to deal with domestic violence issues in the nation in order to be better positioned to support survivors and also help address the issues.
In order to ensure that the public is informed and aware of the issues in order to overcome them, he also called for national sensitization on domestic violence issues.
He also called on Ghanaian society to work towards changing attitudes towards violence against women and children.
In his conclusion, Wemakor emphasized the importance of providing psychological counseling to children who live in abusive households as a means of addressing the country’s rising domestic violence cases, adding that “it is these children who grow up and also perpetrate acts of violence against their partners in abusive households.”
Domestic abuse, also called “domestic violence” or “intimate partner violence”, can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.
Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can occur in a range of relationships, including those between couples who are married, living together, or dating.
The issue of domestic violence is not unique to Ghana. However, it is a problem that impacts communities all over the world. In some cases, cultural beliefs, societal pressure, and economic hardships can prevent victims from seeking help, leading to prolonged abuse, trauma, and in some cases, death.
The Ghana Police Service’s Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) has statistics that show 305 women were raped and 1,047 girls were defiled in 2020. This is a troubling trend that requires immediate attention.
To address this, various significant initiatives have been taken in some countries around the world, such as establishing national hotlines and safe houses, providing legal services, and counseling to victims.
However, there is still much more that can be done, especially in parts of the world where domestic violence is still seen as a private matter that should not involve the police or other authorities.
It is crucial to give victims control, make sure they are aware of their rights, and enable them to ask for assistance without being afraid of being punished by the abusers. It is also essential that those responsible for such violence be brought to justice in accordance with the needs of the victims.
Domestic abuse and violence against partners are still major problems in Ghana and around the world. Communities must continue to be on the lookout for vulnerable people and fight for their rights, especially for those who have survived these assaults. To ensure that those responsible for such heinous crimes face the full weight of the law, we must unite.
Watch the interview here: