Institutional collaboration key to addressing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence – stakeholders

Bolgatanga, July 2, GNA – Stakeholders have called for effective partnership and collaboration among human rights institutions, agencies and organisations to appropriately address issues of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) to promote the growth and development of children.

This would ensure that victims and survivors of SGBV were protected and given the necessary essential services while perpetrators were made to face justice to serve as a deterrent to others.

The stakeholders include representatives from the Departments of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU), Ghana Education Service, Ghana Health Service, and some Civil Society Organisations.

They made the call in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region, at a review meeting on the implementation of the Minimum Essential Service Package (MESP) organised by the Department of Gender with funding support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Mr James Twene, the Regional Director, Department of Gender, said due to sensitisation people in the region were enlightened and had begun to report cases of abuse to the law enforcement agencies for redress, however, SGBV remained a problem in the region.

He said defilement, teenage pregnancy, child marriage and other issues of SGBV were still increasing in the region and the situation was a source of worry and underscored the urgent need for stakeholders to blend synergies to make a significant impact.

“One department, institution or individuals cannot do it alone but when we collaborate, we can fight it because there is a lot of intimidation when handling cases of SGBV”, he said.

He said apart from engaging men, boys and out-of-school and parent advocacy movements on preventing SGBV and promoting gender equality, the Department of Gender and other stakeholders had engaged essential service providers to play crucial roles to address issues of SGBV.

He mentioned Kassena-Nankana West, Builsa South, Bongo, Bawku, Talensi and Nabdam Districts as the beneficiary areas and said teenage pregnancy and SGBV were most prevalent in these areas and called for support.

Mr Gilbert Agulu, a Principal Nursing Officer at the Upper East Regional Health Directorate, noted that although there was a marginal reduction in cases of teenage pregnancy compared to the last three years, collective effort from all stakeholders was needed to curb the phenomenon.

He advised parents to constantly engage their adolescent children, especially girls, and equip them with sexual and reproductive health education to help them make informed decisions to avoid unintended pregnancies.

Ms Rose Akanson, the Regional Girl Child Education Officer, Ghana Education Service, noted that due to community involvement, many girls who dropped out of school as a result of teenage pregnancy had returned to the formal school system through the government re-entry policy.

She called on parents to desist from pushing their girls who got pregnant into marriage but support them to deliver and return to school or learn a trade to provide economic empowerment.

Mr Abdulai Jaladeen, the Regional Director, CHRAJ, advised stakeholders to report cases of abuse for investigations and redress.

Ms Yvonne Wonchua, the Regional Focal Person, UNFPA, noted that the MESP project aimed to empower essential service providers with the capacity to provide minimum essential service to survivors of SGBV.

The meeting was to review activities of the institutions, share experiences and adopt best practices to improve performances to fight SGBV in the communities.