Although the Domestic Violence Act does not explicitly mention marital rape, the act is linked to the Criminal Offences Act (revised in 2007) under which marital rape is an offence in Ghana, Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection has said.
“Marital rape is criminalised in pursuant to repeal of section 42(g) by the Statute Revisions Act. Under section 32 of the Domestic Violence Act, where an act committed within the domestic setting is an offence, which attracts a sentence of more than three years imprisonment under the Criminal Offences Act, the police is expected to bring the action under the latter Act and not the Domestic Violence Act.
“Offences which attract sentences of more than three years imprisonment include rape, defilement, incest, serious bodily harm, causing harm with a weapon, manslaughter and murder,” Nana Oye Lithur stated on Friday as Ghana addresses the 59th session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Ghana, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, China, Guinea, Poland, Solomon Islands, and Venezuela are set to defend their gender records before the world body.
Nana Oye Lithur, the leader of Ghana’s delegation said since 2009, Government agencies with mandates to prevent all forms of violence against women had made significant efforts and embarked on various advocacy and awareness creation initiatives to communicate and mobilize community members to address violence against children.
“The Department of Social Development, under the Ministry of Gender had interacted with over 250,000 people in about 250 communities across the country on violence against women and children,” she said.
Other government agencies such as the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Domestic Violence and Victim Support and Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) of the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Ghana Health Service had also engaged with various communities on violence against women.
The Gender Minister explained that the essence of these programmes is to increase publicity and awareness on violence against women and its effects, adding, “the media has been a strong ally in publicizing and publishing various news items on violence against women and children.”
She said a number of activities had also been undertaken towards implementation of the National Policy and Plan of Action on Domestic Violence (2009-2019).
“Against the backdrop of the Domestic Violence Act, the focus of activities under the Policy has been to ensure the effective implementation of the Act,” she said.
She also noted that there are mechanisms at the national and institutional levels to track progress through periodic assessments.
Periodic surveys such as the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS), Core Welfare Indicators Questionnaire (CWIQ) and the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) produced by the Ghana Statistical Service serve as solid monitoring tools for measuring progress on violence against women and girls to inform and guide interventions for prevention of domestic violence.
In response to the Committee’s concern about the lack of comprehensive data on violence against women, DOVVSU and the DV secretariat has made diligent effort to compile data on domestic violence in Ghana from the cases it receives, she said.
On challenges and difficulties; Nana Oye Lithur said the difficulties encountered by Ghana in effectively prosecuting cases of domestic violence mostly cover the following:
Difficulty in adducing evidence in cases of emotional/psychological abuse; difficulty getting funds for medical treatment for clients and medical reports; delays in reporting the abuse; difficulty penetrating through the walls of the Ghanaian culture, since issues of sexual and gender-based violence are often seen as private matters, dealt with within families and communities.
Difficulty in getting evidence from witnesses to build a good case for prosecution; Victim/survivors discontinuation of complaints or unwillingness to pursue cases; and Inadequate shelters for survivors of abuse.
On trafficking in women and exploitation of prostitution, Nana Oye Lithur said cross border trafficking occurs in Ghana, and there is evidence of it happening especially for sexual exploitation of women and children.
“The trafficking of children is prevalent internally. Girls, especially, are forced into labour, domestic servitude, head porterage, street hawking and prostitution. Boys, on the other hand, are trafficked to do fishing, mining, and quarrying.
“Trafficking for agricultural labour is reducing due to ILO and ECOWAS Projects…..for men, cross country trafficking or illegal migrant smuggling is connected with fraudulent recruitment agencies and young men stowing away on ships to Europe, America and the Arab world including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to do construction work.
“Ghanaian women and children are also trafficked to Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, South Africa, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States for forced labour and sex trafficking.
“Some women and girls voluntarily migrating from China, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Benin have also been subjected to commercial sexual exploitation after arriving in Ghana,” she said.
The Gender Minister revealed that key obstacles to implementation of the Human Trafficking Act are mainly: Ineffective collaborative mechanisms to fight trafficking; Inadequate Government budgetary allocation to carry out mandated activities in the Human Trafficking Act by MoGCSP and for that matter the Human Trafficking Secretariat.
She said the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) remains under-staffed and under-funded. AHTU officials are the only state officials mandated to prosecute trafficking cases yet their limited resources hamper government’s ability to adequately address the number of cases brought to the Unit each year.
Nana Oye Lithur said to combat these challenges; the Human Trafficking Secretariat has submitted a number of funding proposals to the key donor partners – UNICEF, USAID, and Solidarity Fund of the French Government.
The Secretariat has also collaborated with the International Organisation for Migration (IMO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other local NGOs on various activities to implement the Act for which these organisations have the resources.
She said in spite of the challenges, the Government has made efforts to strengthen the institutional framework and capacity of officers.
A number of public education and awareness campaigns have been carried out by AHTU, MoGCSP and the IOM.
In 2012, MoGCSP collaborated with a local NGO to educate 500 communities in the Kraboa-Coaltar District of the Eastern Region on the dangers of human trafficking.
The Ministry also worked with the Police and IOM to broadcast anti-human trafficking radio programmes in the Upper East, Eastern, and Greater Accra Regions.
It also aired human trafficking documentary programs on television.
Ghana signed the CEDAW Convention on July 17, 1980 and ratified it on January 2, 1986; whilst the optional protocol to the convention signed on February 24, 2000 and ratified on February 3, 2011.
source : GNA