The Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre (Gender Centre), has completed training for 31 Community Based Action Teams (COMBAT), from the Ada East District, on preventing Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).

The participants who were from seven communities made up of Gorm, Big Ada, Luhuese, Ocansekope, Ada-Foah, Anyakpor, and Azizanya, were selected by the leaders of their localities based on their merits to enhance education and sensitization on issues of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) to stop these acts of injustices in their localities.

Their training, which ended in Accra on Friday, however, formed the final part of an intensive 2-week session, where the teams were equipped with knowledge on what constituted GBV and their impact on victims and society, some negative cultural and traditional practices leading to such violations, existing laws protecting vulnerable groups, and effective communication skills.

The COMBATs were also empowered with the knowledge and skills for counselling, mediation practices, and some ethical considerations during their engagements, and to also enable them to provide the needed, sensitisation and support services in their respective communities.

The Executive-Director for the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre, Mrs Dorcas Coker-Appiah, presented Certificates of Participation, photo identification cards with names of their communities written on them, and T-shirts for outreach engagements to each of the participants.

She congratulated them for availing themselves for the training and subsequent advocacy work in their respective communities and encouraged them to be good ambassadors of the Gender Centre and their society at large.

She had earlier stated that VAWG was a global human rights violation and public health issue, with significant negative health consequences, and in Ghana, recent estimates of the prevalence and incidence of VAWG indicated 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 lifetime violence.

Again, the passage of the Domestic Violence (DV) Act 732 in 2007, had a limited impact on the lived experience 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, she said.

“The socio-economic costs of VAWG could result in severe negative consequences for the country’s development,” she added.

Mrs Coker-Appiah re-echoed her earlier advice to the COMBATs to be skilful in their presentation and ensure that their choice of words does not offend or be misinterpreted, but rather influence change in attitudes and thinking on issues of human rights violations, especially those against women and children.

“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,” and urged them to contact the Centre for further resources and information should the need arise during their outreach programmes.

A trader and COMBAT from the Azizanya community, Ms Martha Obodai, thanked the Gender Centre for the support, admitting that although the training was short and very intensive, it had opened her understanding to various issues constituting GBV, their effect on victims and society, and how these injustices could be stopped.

She pledged her commitment and zeal to work hard to eliminate the knotty issues affecting women and girls, citing widespread teenage pregnancies, leading to high school drop-outs of females and early marriages in her community.

Mr Amos Apeatu, also from Ada-Foah, said he was now well equipped for the task ahead with the knowledge and skills acquired from the training and was certain that with enhanced support from the government for shelter for vulnerable women and girls in the various communities, most of the abuses could be averted.