Statistics from the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service (GPS) suggest that January to April, 2019 recorded the highest number of cases of domestic violence as compared to the same period in 2020.
From January to April 2019, DOVVSU recorded a total of 5,778 as compared to 4,879 in the same period in 2020.
The cases ranged from assault, non-maintenance, defilement, threat to harm, threat of death, offensive conduct and rape.
This came to light at a national consultation organised by the International Network to End Violence Against Women and Girls (INEVAWG) in Accra.
Organised on the theme, “Repoliticising violence against women and girls: A call to action”, the in-person and virtual meeting was aimed at gathering relevant and current inputs, insights and information related to Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).
According to the DOVVSU director, in comparing data from January 2016 to April to the same period in 2020, there had not been any significant change in the pattern of recorded cases.
Giving an overview of the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions as it relates to DOVVSU cases, she said a total of 667 cases were reported at the four affected lockdown areas made up of Greater Accra, Tema, Greater Kumasi and Kasoa.
She said during the restrictions period, regional cases distribution saw the Greater Accra Region recording a total of 464 cases, representing 69.6 per cent of the total cases, the Tema Region recorded a total of 125 cases, representing 18.7 per cent, Greater Kumasi recorded a total of 59 cases, representing 8.8 per cent and Kasoa recorded a total of 19 cases, representing 2.5 per cent of the total cases.
She said majority of the 667 cases reported within the restrictions period for the four affected areas were assault, which recorded a total of 229 cases, representing 34.3 per cent, emotional abuse recorded a total of 77 cases, representing 11.5 per cent, threat of harm recorded a total of 56 cases, representing 8.4 per cent and threat of death recorded 46 cases, representing 6.9 per cent.
The others were defilement, recording 44 cases, representing 6.6 per cent, offensive conduct 34 cases, representing 5.1 per cent, non-maintenance recorded a total of 30 cases, representing 4.5 per cent, physical abuse recorded 16 cases, representing 2.3 per cent and rape recorded a case, representing 1.6 per cent.
She said out of the 667 cases reported during the COVID-19 restrictions period, 32 of them had a direct link to the restrictions.
In a presentation on “Effective Implementation of the DV Act : Role of Metropolitans, Municipalities and District Assemblies (MMDAs),” Madam Latifa Abobo Siddique of the DOVVSU secretariat said violence against women and children continued to be a problem globally and in every country.
She said in Ghana, as in most African countries, violence tended to be condoned under certain cultural practices and religious beliefs, particularly when the violence took place within the home, adding that domestic violence remained the most hidden form of violence in the country.
Enumerating some of the challenges encountered in trying to assist victims of domestic violence, she mentioned inadequate financial and human resources, as well as shelter to keep victims.
Also, she said, “It is rather unfortunate to state that some survivors do not have confidence in the police because of the time and financial resources they might have to invest when they are referred there, so they end up abandoning the case”.
She added that threats and pressures from families and culprits also hampered the progress of cases.
However, she said the work of the secretariat had recently been enhanced with the refurbishment of the long abandoned shelter for DV victims and a toll free call centre (Orange Support Centre), as well as an App dubbed “Buame” which was launched with support from the UNFPA.
The Executive Director of the GSHRDC, Mrs Docas Coker Appiah, in her welcome address, mentioned countries that came together to form the network to include Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, India, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Britain, United states of America and Mexico.