Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Negative culture against women not justifiable
EVEN though rape is the most often cited sexual violence against women, female genital mutilation, trokosi and widowhood rites are also forms of sexual and gender based violence says Professor Miranda Greenstreet, chairperson of the Gender Development Institute (GDI).
These she said, cannot be overlooked or justified on the grounds of tradition, culture and social conformity.
She said this on Monday at the opening of the “The fourth International Conference on the GDI at Elmina.
The five-day event is on the theme “Sexual and gender-based violence-a social nightmare-provoking action”.
It is being attended by more than 50 delegates from gender-based organizations and institutions from Ghana, Botswana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa and Belgium.
The participants will be briefing each other on the situation in their respective countries and exchange ideas on how best to contribute towards resolving them.
Prof. Greenstreet said the term, also encompassed a wide variety of abuses that included sexual threats, exploitation, humiliation, assaults, molestation, incest involuntary prostitution, torture, and insertion of objects into genital openings.
While acknowledging that men and young boys, may also be vulnerable to sexual violence, Prof. Greenstreet who is also a member of the National African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Governing Council said that men and boys, may also be vulnerable to sexual violence, but women and girls were more vulnerable, and cited surveys in Ghana in 1992 which revealed that such crimes against women, were mostly not reported for various reasons, including threats, shyness, ignorance, or fear of parents and relatives.
Prof. Greenstreet therefore stressed the need for the strict implementation of laws, legislations and policies formulated to curb the situation and added that, the victims should be given “quality counseling” and be treated with empathy, care and support.
She expressed the hope that the conference would discuss the problems and challenges in-depth and that the legal aspects of addressing them will be examined so that the prevalence of the problem would be minimized to enable females to play “a fuller role in the development of society”.
In an address read on her behalf, the Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs (MOWAC), Hajia Alima Mahama, said the need to ensure that attention to gender perspectives is an integral part of interventions in all areas of social development was made clear in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
The government of Ghana, she said, was through various interventions, such as gender main-streaming, ensuring balanced development through the equitable distribution of resources and benefits to both males and females. She also briefed them on other policies and programmes geared towards women and girls’ welfare and empowerment, through the establishment of MOWAC, which she said, was also training chief directors on gender concepts and gender mainstreaming.
Additionally, a core of gender experts from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies she said, had been identified and trained as trainers on gender issues.
Mrs. Jane Kwawu, an International Gender Consultant who opened the conference, observed that the long – standing failure to protect and promote those rights and freedoms in the case of violence against women was a matter of priority and urgency to many nations and should be addressed.
She noted that until recently, sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls, was viewed as a private family matter, and had only been “moved from the shadows” during the last decade.
The Ghanaian Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 Page: 7