The Ghana Police Service in collaboration, with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has commissioned a newly refurbished crises response centre at Police Hospital in Accra.
The centre is expected to serve as the first point of assistance and support for victims of domestic violence.
The UNFPA Country Representative for Ghana, Mr Niyi Ojuolape, said at the commissioning that refurbishing the centre formed part of several activities rolled out to commemorate the 16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
The 16 Days of Activism against GBV is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25th November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
Under the laws of Ghana, anybody below 16 years cannot give consent to sexual intercourse and so any 16-year-old who becomes pregnant is as a result of rape.
According to Mr Ojuolape, about 8000 cases of rape were recorded every year each year in Ghana.
On GBV, he said it involved both men and women, but most prominently women are victims and survivors, blaming it on unequal power relations that place men in a more advantageous position.
He added that there was the need to have effective and integrated services for survivors to ensure that they were well rehabilitated and reintegrated into society for protection of their rights and dignity.
He called for inter-sectorial approach and holistic support in responding to the needs of survivors of GBV, involving the police, medical personnel, social workers and psychologist.
“We cannot do this without the police who are the front liners when it comes to law enforcement and the traditional leaders who are the gatekeepers in the communities.”
“If we want to have access to the children and parents in order to prevent any form of sexual and GBV, then we must involve them,” he said.
He encouraged the public to stand up and speak up against rape and all forms of violence against women and girls.
The Director-General of Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) of the Ghana Police Service Maame Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, said the centre was an area renovated by the UNFPA to help victims narrate their stories once.
It is to house doctors, social workers, counsellors, investigators and people who would handle domestic violence cases.
She said that “when someone is a victim of domestic abuse, the person would have to talk to the investigator, the crime officer, the social welfare officer, the doctor, among others.”
“The more the person keeps on telling the story, the more the pain comes back to the person. So this response centre would serve as a place, where the story would be told once.”
Prof. Yakubu S. Nantogma, who represented the President of National House of Chiefs, said lack of knowledge and role definition plus lack of understanding about what individual and collective moral in society has led to rising GBV in communities.
He stated that “we can all pull it together and define what our roles are, individuals and collectively in society. If we can all decide and go by the local rules that bind us regarding how to raise our children and decide to come together as a society that certain things were not acceptable and if done would be sanctioned, this would go a long way to make it a relic.”
He added, “we cannot pretend that it doesn’t exist, but it exists so we must wake up and face the reality of our situation that domestic violence is present and we need to find solutions and resolutions to them.”
“Let us come out with mechanisms that would help all of us face reality and hammer out solutions.”
Assistant Superintendent of Police Foster Nanewortor, said the centre was a way of informing the public that help is available and that, the centre was one where people could call and get the needed help.
He called for the establishment of a special fund to cater for and provide shelter for affected individuals of GBV.