Plan International Ghana in collaboration with its Alumni Network and Coalition for Survivors of Domestic Violence, is advocating free medical examination fees for victims of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault victims.
Other partners supporting the move including the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, Department of Children, and Ghana Actress Ama K. Abebrese announced the partnership on a virtual dialogue held online to discuss the challenges such victims faced.
A Legal Practitioner,Mr Samson Lardy Anyenini, explaining the position of the law on the subject matter, said all rape and sexual assault survivors were entitled to free medical treatment, and it was the responsibility of the State to absorb the charges.
He said there was the need for an elaborate guideline which would ensure enforcement of the law.
The Accra Regional Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police Afia Tenge, said if a statute was made and there were no modalities or measures to ensure that such victims got the needed support, and then it would become a bigger challenge.
The police, she said, was not blaming health workers on executing their duties and called on all stakeholders to join forces to find ways of cushioning victims of these crimes.
The Director of Eastern Regional Hospital, Dr. Akoto Ampaw said it was important for everyone to understand that medical examination fees must be paid whether by the government or individuals.
“But I must also agree that it should not prevent the victim from getting justice in any form at all and the earlier we begin to look at how we pay for this service, the better,” he added.
The Director of DOVVSU, Chief Superintendent Owusuaa Kyeremeh, said medical examination fees were a huge hindrance in the pursuit of justice.
She said medical treatment for victims must be free, adding that, the court of law had provisions or compensation for witnesses who were summoned in court.
A Principal Programmes Officer, Madam Abena Aprekua Badu-Aboagye, addressing the issue from the perspective of the Department of Children, under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, noted that there was a guideline that was used in addressing abuse cases which states that medical examination fees were supposed to be borne by the state.
She, however, explained that the guideline ought to be made clear on who or which Ministry or government institution/agency was responsible for payment of such charges.
Ms Ama K. Abeberese, who has been advocating the abolishment of medical examination fees for all rape and sexual assault survivors said her online petition had generated over 15,000 signatories.
She said she met with the first lady of the Republic, and the Minister for Gender, Children, and Social Protection on the issue, and she was working towards submitting an official petition and other documents to the government soon for consideration.
The Country Director of Plan International Ghana, Mr Solomon TesfaMariam, said the doors of his organisation were always opened for any further engagement and support to ensure that all rape and sexual assault survivors were not denied justice.