Nana Otua Owusuaa I, the Akwaboahene and Tufuhene of Akropong Akwapim in the Eastern Region, has called for the establishment of a National House of Queens to assist in addressing sexual violence meted against girls and boys in the country.
She said the establishment of the National House of Queens, would better position queen mothers to deal with sexual violence issues when they arise and find lasting solutions to help in the fight when they appear before the stool.
Nana Owusuaa made the call on a panel discussion at a national dialogue on sexual violence against girls and boys in Accra to discuss the way forward in addressing the challenge.
The dialogue, organized by Youth Advocates Ghana in collaboration with Plan International, the UNFPA, UNICEF among others, sought to galvanize support, reinforce the vision of a nation where children and young people influence decisions that affected their lives.
It was also to ensure that young people enjoyed their rights and assumed responsibilities as full citizens.
Nana Owusuaa said even though the National House of Chiefs was still operational, queen mothers needed to be brought on board to do the talking on behalf of women to avoid the out of court settlements, which was leaving girls more traumatized and perpetrators rather freed.
“The issue of sexual violence is key and culture plays a major role in addressing such cases, therefore, everybody needs to be engaged to solve the problem”.
“It takes time to amend cultural norms but we need to start from somewhere. That is the only way we can be assured of resolving the issue,” she added.
Ms Selina Owusu, Gender Analyst UNFPA, said the issue of sexual violence was a serious problem that needed all hands on deck called for more partners to champion the course and ensure that the numerous laws that Ghana had signed on as far as this issue was concerned were implemented.
She said most often, girls suffered from sexual violence through no fault of theirs and it was incumbent on government to provide the needed resources to address the challenge.
Ms Owusu said there was the need for coordinated services by institutions to deal with girls and boys who have been abused and called on the appropriate Ministries to get the laws working to address child abuse cases.
Dr George Oppong, Country Director of Defence for Children, said the social support systems right from homes, families among others were weak and that had worsened the situation till date.
He called on government to close the resource and financial gaps to ensure that these issues of sexual violence were effectively addressed.
Mrs Linda Asante Agyei, the Vice President of the Ghana Journalists Association and editor Ghana News Agency, advised girls and boys to take a clue from other people’s experience and speak up when they encounter any challenge.
She also urged parents to keep their eyes on their children to ensure that they always do the right thing to prevent them from falling victims to sexual violence.
“We have to respect the rights of the child to express themselves on issues that directly affect them”.
Ms Priscilla Mawuena Adjeidu, a Youth Champion, appealed to parents to always give their children a listening ear to enable them tell them what their problems are.