Friday, 12 August 2016

Blog info: Domestic Abuse

Statistics from the Gender Centre in Ghana show that 33% of women in Ghana experience physical violence, and 1 in 3 experience domestic violence (beating, slapping and other) with 81% of women being beaten by hand. The centre also records that 2 out of 3 women from that percentage suffered injuries from domestic violence. This caused 49% of those injured to seek medical treatment for their injuries, which also costs them a lot of money.

This week we have been running 'Peer Education' sessions, which is where we teach two people from women's groups in Kanvili and Banvim on the topics of domestic abuse and sexual reproductive health rights.

In-action peer education

Sexual Violence is one of the biggest types of violence within domestic violence as the following statistics will suggest:
  • There has been a rise in sexual violence e.g, rape and young girls being touched without consent
  • 15% of women have been circumcised
  • 2 in 10 first experience sexual intercourse by force

As in any country there are cultural norms or practises that the people follow, such as in Ghana there is Female Genital Mutilation, tribal markings, food taboos in which women should not eat certain foods and forced marriage. (15%) FGM in women and 85% of girls are circumcised before the age of 15.

When our teaching sessions are complete, the women will then return to their communities to feed back and educate their peers on the information they have learned.

The team outside our office with peer educators (middle)

Before doing this, we cemented our knowledge of domestic abuse by orchestrating a visit from DOVVSU (Ghana's Domestic Violence Victim Support Unit). Two representatives came and gave us information from the Acts on domestic abuse and we were able to question them further on the services they provide as an organisation.

Domestic abuse comes under 4 general categories:

  1. Emotional abuse
  2. Physical violence
  3. Financial abuse
  4. Sexual abuse

When teaching, we came up with an easy way to remember these across language barriers by using actions to symbolise the types of abuse. Number 1 was crying, 2 punching, 3 hand on pocket, 4 a cross made with index fingers.

We have already mentioned physical and sexual violence, and there can also be a type of abuse called psychological abuse which comes under the 'emotional' strand e.g. threatening behaviour, bullying and destruction of property.

Economic or financial abuse is another form of domestic abuse where the men neglect to provide money for food and school as well as refusing to allow women to work. 62% of women said that decisions on buying goods are solely left to the man of the household.

Domestic violence is a serious issue in Ghana that affects many people and families. Due to many ingrained views and traditions its something that happens frequently in homes, often without serious investigation. Individuals can be scared or reluctant to report issues due to a fear of punishment or an acceptance of abuse as the norm.

Reporting is generally low as women who are touched against their will 6 in 10 did not report it to anyone. Similarly 7 in 10 did not report when they were forced to have sex. 33% of women experienced domestic violence when they did report their cases.

Many women believe they are not being abused as this seems normal to them. She believes that she contributes to the abuse and therefore do not report domestic violence.

The men have also given out many threats such as he will leave the family. This is difficult for women which is punctuated when there are children involved. There have been many reported instances of the man threatening to kill the woman, the children and even himself. Most religions discourage divorce and the breaking up of families.

At WOSAG, we're trying to change these attitudes and encourage victims to feel comfortable in seeking help.

Sometimes family can intervene in situations, and in such cases the family’s main advice to the woman is to stay with the abusive husband and sort things out between themselves as many families accept violence as normal. They also consider the woman to be the property of husband because of the bride price paid at the start of the marriage.

This is why we recommend going to DOVVSU. DOVVSU are available for informal advice, counselling and support as well as serious investigation of instances, lawful intervention and submission of offending parties to court. Crucially, cases with DOVVSU can be made in confidence and anyone who reports to DOVVSU is safe and has the right to confidentiality.

(The procedure below will only be useful to people living in Ghana)

Do you think you could be a victim of abuse?

  • your partner stops you from seeing family and friends
  • prevents you from working
  • humiliates you
  • makes fun of your appearance
  • pushes or shoves you
  • shouts abusive language

What to do (in Ghana):

  1. Wait until the person is calm and try to talk things out

When the person is abusive towards you, try to stay away from them at first then wait till they are calm. This means the chances of re-abuse will be lower.
2.     Involve parents/family
         If you have done step 1 and the person still abuses then talk to family members and both parents.
        3.  Social welfare department
If step 2 is not done, then go to the Social welfare department.
          4.  Elders/religious leaders
If abuse still occurs then take advice from the religious leaders or elders in the community
            5.  Involve the chief
if the elders or religious leaders are not able to solve the problem, the chief will have to be involved.

6.  DOVVSU (Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit)
Finally, if the abuse still occurs then the final point of contact is DOVVSU who will ensure confidentiality even for the person who reports on victims behalf.
Procedure for DOVVSU:
  • A victim or a person with info may file a domestic violence complaint
  • Go to DOVVSU office
  • Explain your case to a member of staff
  • DOVVSU will not make an arrest straight away. They will try to talk to the victim before actions are taken.
  • If the case is serious, protection will be offered for victim and if anyone else made the complaint on behalf of victim
  • The officer shall interview the victim, person who reported the crime, the person committed the offence.
DOVVSU can also be the number 1 port of call. If you think it's serious, don't want to get in touch with those that can help you. DOVVSU is 24hr and available to help

Written by Mohammed Daniyaal Khan and Ellie Gibbs

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