The Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre (Gender Centre), has ended another training programme on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) for 35 Community Based Action Teams (COMBAT), from the Ada East District.
The five-day training was to equip the participants with adequate knowledge on how to tackle sexual violence using mobile technology to promote safer schools in their communities.
The communities involved were; Ada Foh, Gorm, Luhuese, Ocansey Kope, Anyakpor, Azizanya and Big Ada, and the COMBAT members who were awarded certificates of participation, were expected to begin active sensitisation on issues that constituted Gender Based Violence, particularly against women and children, and be able to provide basic services to such victims of abuses in their localities.
The Executive-Director of the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre, at the closing ceremony in Accra, commended the participants for availing themselves for the training, and for affirming their commitment to voluntarily work towards purging their respective communities of all forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) through enhanced education.
She said the Gender Centre was appreciative of the financial support received from AmplifyChange, which is a fund set up to support Civil Society Organisations to advocate for improved sexual and reproductive health rights.
She also thanked all other institutions that had supported the Gender Centre through its 20 years of providing sustainable education and training on GBV, through COMBAT members in communities across Ghana, which has yielded positive outcomes.
Mrs Coker-Appiah indicated that Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) had been an outstanding global human rights violation and a public health issue, with significant negative health consequences for many years, and in Ghana, recent estimates of the prevalence and incidence indicate a high occurrence, with 28 per cent of women reporting at least one form of violence in the past year, and 45 per cent prevalence of a lifetime violence.
Again, the passage of the Domestic Violence (DV) Act 732 in 2007, had had limited impact on the experiences of rural populations in Ghana, saying, the significant negative and social consequences of VAWG, if not addressed through evidence-based interventions, would result in far reaching consequences, not only for the individuals, but families, communities and society as a whole.
“The socio-economic costs of VAWG could result in severe negative consequences for the country’s development,” she added.
Mrs Coker-Appiah advised the participants to be diligent in finding culprits of the various forms of abuses which included physical, sexual, psychological and economic violence, and provide them with counselling, or report such perpetrators to the appropriate institutions for proper punishment.
She also advised them to be skillful in their presentation of the information and knowledge acquired at the training to the people, ensuring that their choices of words does not offend the sensitivities of the culture and traditions of the people, or be misinterpreted, but rather to influence change in attitudes and thinking on issues of human rights violations, especially those against women and children.
However, “don’t take the position of the police or experts, but be bold and clear in sharing the knowledge that you have acquired during this training,” she said, and also urged them to contact the Centre for further resources and information should the need arise during their outreach programmes.
Ms Esther Darko Mensah, who was the Trainer, stressed on “do and don’ts” of COMBATs, saying they must have good knowledge of the customs and traditions of their communities, respect the views of victims of abuses with regards to confidentiality, and also be able to empower them with knowledge of the law to help build their self-esteem.
She urged all COMBAT members to exhibit qualities including commitment, humility, trustworthiness, patience, self-control, assertiveness and fairness, and further reminded them of their roles in crisis intervention, where they were required to accompany victims to seek for redress whether at the police station, Ministries of Education or Health.
COMBATs on the other hand, were to avoid the temptation of giving false information and hope to victims of abuse, but were to refer them to the appropriate institutions where necessary for onward action.