Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) George Appiah Sekyi, the Central Regional Director of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, has affirm that unhelpful cultural practices and perceptions were major impediments in the fight against gender equality.

A group photograph of Volta NPP women organizers
A group photograph of Volta NPP women organizers

According to him, these outmoded cultural practices had given rise to the unequal power relations among men and women in society, and were largely the root causes of sexual and gender-based violence.

?Some of our cultural beliefs and perceptions about manhood and womanhood, go a long way to fuel the causes of domestic violence in most of the cases reported to us.?

Mr. Sekyi made these remarks when he spoke at a community dialogue on women empowerment, sexual and gender-based violence and teenage pregnancy at Mankessim which was organized by the Ministry of Gender, Children, Women and Social Protection (MoGCSP), with financial support from the UNFPA .

The dialogue programme is currently being organized in six different communities in three regions, namely, the Central, Northern and Greater-Accra.

He indicated that cases of domestic violence had been on the increase in the past years, and the criminal justice system does not encourage the perpetrators to be brought to book, because of the types of culture in the country.

He pointed out that culture was dynamic, and therefore it was necessary for society do away with all outmoded cultural practices, adding that ?until those unhelpful cultural practices and perceptions are eliminated, the quest of the government to have a gender balanced society will be just a dream and will not materialize.?

He commended the MoGCSP for taking the bold step to educate the public on issues of women empowerment and sexual and gender-based violence, since such activities would go a long way to create the awareness that some of our traditional practices need to be changed.

The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, noted that empowering women to participate fully in all aspects of life, was key to national development, because empowered women would invest far more resources in their families and children to attain higher heights in life.

She lamented about the fact that despite the resourcefulness of women in society, certain old age traditional practices and other factors continued to hamper their empowerment with gender- based violence being the major challenge.

In a speech read on her behalf by Mrs. Victoria Natsu, the Executive Secretary at the Domestic Violence Secretariat of the MoGCSP, Mrs Lithur indicated that the Ministry was working assiduously to get women empowered in all aspects of life, by putting in place the necessary policies and legal frameworks to protect their interests.

She said the Ministry was collaborating with other implementing partners such, as the ECOWAS Gender Development Centre, to award scholarships to needy girls to pursue their educational ambitions.

She charged women to change the negative perceptions about themselves, since that was the first empowerment they could give to themselves.

The Gender Minister advised them not to backbite their fellow women who had been successful in life, but rather encourage them.

Mrs. Rachael Adjoa Amofa, Head of the Gender Department in Mfantseman, disclosed that of the 7,351 cases pregnancy cases reported at the Mfantseman Hospital in 2012, 832 were teenage pregnancies.

She said 859 of a total 6, 772 recorded in 2013 were also teenage pregnancies, while in 2014, 846 of the 5, 731 reported pregnancy cases at the hospital, were also teenage ones, making the situation very prevalent in the Mfantseman Municipality.

She described the situation as very worrying, and charged women to take full responsibility, and try to be interested in the activities of their children, particularly their daughters.

Some of the participants who spoke to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), said they were highly enlightened by the workshop, and prayed that such programmes would be organized regularly.



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