Thursday, 25 February 2016

Abuse of one’s right

After seven weeks of data collection, we are almost done with our research! The students and the women of both Banvim and Kanvili have completed most of our questionnaires and workshops. We started with Teenage Pregnancy, Girls Group and Peer Education and then went on to Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and Domestic Violence. Among all of these, I decided to write about Domestic Violence because we found out that a lot of women’s and children’s rights have been abused in our society and Ghana as a whole.

Domestic Violence is when someone in an intimate relationship abuses the other. I’ve learned that the abuses can be physical, sexual, emotional, and financial or a combination of all of these. An example of emotional abuse is a deprivation of love and physical contact and verbal abuses involving constantly being shouted at. In fact, men in my community think that once they get married, all that they say should be final. The woman has no say.

All this violence can be caused by offensive conducts, financial issues that can lead to disagreements and altercations that can lead to violent behaviours. Children who live in homes where there is Domestic Violence grow up in an environment that is unpredictable, filled with tension and anxiety and dominated by fear.

This can lead to significant emotional and psychological trauma, similar to children who are victims of child abuse. Instead of growing up in an emotionally and physically safe, secure, nurturing and predictable environment, these children are forced to worry about their future.

Another impact is that children living with Domestic Violence may be used and manipulated by an abuser to hurt others.

WOSAG volunteers meeting the Women's Group of Banvim
Additionally, Domestic Violence has a great impact on women’s health and well-being, both short and long term. Negative health impacts may be felt even after the relationship has ended. Exposure to violence increases the risk of women developing a range of health problems in comparison to women who have not experienced Domestic Violence. These can be hearing loss, vision loss, miscarriage or early delivery, headaches, back pains and depression and many others. Psychological consequences of violence can be as serious as the physical effects.

There is also an impact on our society: it is a major public health concern, which contributes to the level of illness and death worldwide and is associated with the prevalence of severe mental disorders and higher rates of physical disability. Children in such families may develop behavioural and emotional problems after experiencing physical abuse in the context of Domestic Violence. Those who witness their mother being abused by their father are more likely to inflict severe violence on others as adults.

Looking at all these impacts, I have seen and learned that there is a need to prevent these problems by speaking out publicly against domestic violence. It is crucial to educate men, women and teenagers to respect their romantic partners and support them in pursuing respectful and healthy relationships.

Our research findings have also shown that many women and children would not report instances of domestic violence to the police if they experienced it or witnessed it. Reporting domestic violence was often seen as “culturally unacceptable”. This was mainly because women did not want to disgrace their family – they wanted to salvage their marriage and protect their children. Moreover, one of the reasons why women are often unwilling to report domestic violence is because their husband is the “breadwinner” of the family. By reporting the case, women face the risk of their husband being put in jail, which would leave them with no stable source of income for an unpredictable amount of time. It is therefore necessary to build trust between the people and the police. Victims and witnesses of domestic abuse should be confident that speaking out about the issue is in the interest of the victim, in their interest, and in the interest of the community as a whole.

WOSAG volunteers leading a workshop at Kanvili RC School
On the 8th and 13th of March, we will hold our awareness raising campaigns in both Banvim and Kanvili. Our aim will be to share our research findings and all the information we have about Domestic Violence, Teenage Pregnancy, Sexual Health and Menstrual Hygiene with the local populations. I hope by the end of this sensitisation, domestic violence and teenage pregnancy will reduce in both communities.

Author: Angelina Agoruk

Edited by: Blandine Bénézit, Andrew Hamilton, Ysabelle Smith, Caleb Adams. 

1 comment:

  1. Those people who abuses many children must be punished by law and the government.
    Child abuse is everyone's business