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Violence against women (VAW), also known as gender-based violence and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is, collectively, violent acts that are primarily or exclusively committed against women and girls. Sometimes considered a hate crime, this type of violence is gender-based, meaning that the acts of violence are committed against women and girls expressly because they are female. (Wiki)

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women states, "violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women" and "violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men."

Violence against women can fit into several broad categories. These include violence carried out by "individuals" as well as "states". Some of the forms of violence perpetrated by individuals are:

  • rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, reproductive coercion, female infanticide, prenatal sex selection, obstetric violence, and mob violence; as well as harmful customary or traditional practices such as honor killings, dowry violence, female genital mutilation, marriage by abduction and forced marriage.
  • some forms of violence are perpetrated or condoned by the state such as war rape; sexual violence and sexual slavery during conflict; forced sterilization; forced abortion; violence by the police and authoritative personnel; stoning and flogging. Many forms of VAW, such as trafficking in women and forced prostitution are often perpetrated by organized criminal networks.

Ghanaian women face barriers in reporting violence. These obstacles are rooted in a cultural belief that domestic and sexual violence is a private matter that should be addressed outside of the criminal justice system. A public health report shows that 33 to 37 percent of women in Ghana have experienced intimate partner violence in the course of their relationship (this includes physical, sexual, and emotional violence). In Ghanaian schools, studies found that 14 percent of girls are victims of sexual abuse and 52 percent have experienced gender-based violence. These numbers are likely understated, as girls tend not to report crimes for fear of reprisal. (BMC Public Health)

Violence and abuse of children, including sexual abuse, also remains very high with over 90% of children reporting having experienced physical violence, both at home and in the school environment. (Unicef)

Under the international human rights law, the Ghanaian government is obligated to address, prevent, investigate, and punish domestic violence perpetrators. It has taken critical first steps, one of which is the establishment of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU). However, this is not enough as everyday women, girls and children are facing violence and little is done about it. High profile cases comes into the media we all get upset and then the stories die. Well enough is enough.

Sexual and gender based violence isn’t just a problem for women, but the entire community at large. It will take a collective effort to ensure a large-scale prevention of its occurrence. Lets start with petition to the government as a first step to put pressure on the government and its agencies to start to actually address the problem. We can no longer be passive observers or continue helplessly and be outraged. Collective action is needed. You can Help by signing the petition. Your signature matters and is a start to making a difference. Thank you.