UNFPA empowers adolescent girls on the Domestic Violence Act

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has schooled selected young girls in the Upper East Region on the Domestic Violence Act and Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) as part of measures to safeguard them against exploitation.

Adolescent girls both in and out of school were selected from various districts across the region and were educated as ambassadors against SGBV and domestic violence as stated in the law.

The Focal Person, UNFPA, Upper East Regional Coordinating Council, Madam Yvonne Wonchua, explained that the young girls were selected from the Builsa South, Nabdam, Kassena-Nankana West, Bongo, Talensi and Bawku West District.

The training was held on the theme, “Empowering adolescent girls on their rights to end sexual and gender-based violence.”

Dubbed “Legal literacy training”, the programme which had financial support from the government of Canada was to equip the girls with basic human rights and responsibilities as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution, to enable them fight various abuses particularly SGBV.

Madam Wonchua said the selected districts were targeted due to the high rate of teenage pregnancies recorded in the areas annually and the training was aimed at training the young girls to replicate the knowledge to their colleagues to help fight the menace.

She explained that although both boys and girls experienced sexual and gender-based violence and domestic violence, girls were mostly affected and therefore it was necessary to give the young girls this training to ensure that they had the knowledge to stand for their rights and be bold enough to report abuses to the mandated institutions.

This, Madam Wonchua stated, would help contribute to ensuring gender equality and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly goal five.

The Regional Director, Department of Gender, Mr James Twene said the socio-cultural beliefs and practices of some societies were dehumanizing and did not support the fight against gender based violence.

A Legal Practitioner and Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mr Jaladeen Abdulai, said there were state institutions across some of the districts which the young girls could report to or seek advice when their rights were infringed upon.

He said most of the young girls were ignorant about the law and were being exploited and added that there was the need for intensive education to be carried out to ensure that people knew their rights and the channels to direct complaints when their rights were abused.

He said when the girls were empowered to know their rights they would be able to report the perpetrators to the appropriate authorities for arrest and any necessary action to be taken.

The Regional Director noted that the punishment for the culprits of gender-based and domestic violence was not strong enough to deter others from the act, and therefore called for stiffer sentences to be meted out to people who engaged in the act.