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The United Population Fund (UNFPA) has called for the institution of an emergency national domestic violence response plan to provide better interventions during crises.
According to the organisation, domestic violence (DV) incidents were reported to have increased with the emergence of COVID-19, occasioned by restrictions such as lock downs.
However, it said there were no crises management response mechanisms to appropriately deal with the cases.
Speaking at a DV stakeholders’ engagement in Accra yesterday, a Programme Assistant at UNFPA, Mr Faisal Bawa, said the lack of such an emergency plan for crises management was one of the missing links and lessons learnt in responding to the global pandemic.
He, therefore, said the ongoing review meeting of the plan of action for the implementation of a national DV policy presented an opportunity for participants to deliberate and come up with solutions to the matter.
The workshop was organised by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, with funding and technical support from the UNFPA.
It brought together stakeholders in DV to discuss the plan and make their input, in view of emerging trends in the phenomenon.
The plan of action for the DV policy (2009-2019) which had expired is currently undergoing a review.
The overall goal of the 10-year policy document was to facilitate the elimination of domestic violence from the country and create family cohesion for a peaceful environment to accelerate national development.
A number of reports by private and public sector organisations, such as the UNICEF and the Ghana Statistical Service, on the impact of COVID-19 had indicated that because family members had to be confined to their homes and rooms, the level of intolerance for one another increased, with some resulting in physical, emotional and mental abuses.
The reports also said the vulnerabilities of children, women and girls, who were said to be disproportionally affected by domestic violence, increased due to the closure of schools and the lockdown.
According to Mr Bawa, the UNFPA country office had been working to help the national effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on women and girls by addressing key issues of violence since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
“There have been various interventions, including collaborations with the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service to set up hotlines to facilitate public reporting of abuse cases, capacity building for operators, training of more paralegals and sensitisation of the public.
“Moving forward, we will work with the Gender Ministry to set up call centres to provide virtual and physical services for survivors,” he added.
The Head of the DV Secretariat at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Melonin Asibi, said the workshop was also to look at the trends in COVID-19 response, occasioned by domestic violence, as well as new trends in human rights abuses.
She acknowledged that the country lacked a comprehensive plan to adequately deal with DV cases in the heat of the pandemic.
“I am sure that today’s discussions will make adequate consideration for such vulnerabilities,” Ms Asibi said.