Women in Fisheries Against Violence (WiFVEs) project has been launched at Anomabo in the Mfantseman Municipality in the Central Region to address issues of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the fishing communities.
The project, implemented by Hen Mpoano, a Coastal Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with Central and Western Fishmongers Improvement Association (CEWEFIA) as its partner is funded by the European Union (EU).
The three-year project aims to achieve gender equality in fishing by advocating against GBV, abuse and discrimination in Ghana’s marine fisheries sector.
The WiFVE’s Project is expected to address issues of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) through interventions such as developing and implementing an advocacy strategy and communication campaigns underpinned by rigorous assessment.
Other areas of intervention under the project include; strengthening systems and promoting measures for reporting physical violence and abuses, supporting survivors of sexual and physical violence and prosecuting perpetrators of violence against women as well as enhance access to social services and livelihood opportunities for survivors.
In most instances, women are marginalized in the marine fisheries industry. Harmful socio-cultural practices and stereotypes about women are passed on from generations, and the lack of protection makes them more vulnerable to sexual harassment and abuse. They experience the phenomenon of unpaid work and low wages and in some communities, women have to offer sex in exchange for fish supply.
Mrs. Adiza Ama Owusu, Manager of the WiFVEs Project explained that the project has been designed to be implemented in 18 marine fishing communities in the Central and Western Regions.
She indicated that the project would develop the capacity of all including leaders of fisher folks in preventing and responding to GBV in their fishing communities.
Jesitan Tetteh Sanakey, Central Regional Director of the Fisheries Commission explained that the commission do not consider violence against women and girls as social canker only, but a developmental challenge which affects a large chunk of the Ghanaian population and their contribution to national development.
The Commission, he said will continue to intensify its monitoring, control, surveillance, evaluation, and compliance functions in all areas of fisheries development and management in Ghana, including fish health, post-harvest activities, safety, and quality assurance.
Madam Richlove Amanoo, Central Regional Director of the Department of Gender, also pledged to contest every form of violence against women and girls.
She said violence against women and girls continue to be a barrier to gender equality in most countries around the world including Ghana, despite the numerous ongoing programmes and interventions.
“The adverse consequences of violence on battered women and girls about their health, psychological and emotional well-being, compromise and undermine their development” she said.
She noted that violence against women and girls is not justified and must not be tolerated no matter where, how, and who committed the offense.
“The home, workplace, educational institutions as well as public places must be safe and devoid of violence” she stressed.
Madam Grace Ansah, a participant called for free medical care for victims of sexual and gender-based.
According to her, although it is stipulated in the Domestic Violence Act for a Domestic Violence Support Fund to be established to provide free medical care for girls and women who suffered as a result of sexual abuse and gender-based violence, it is still not operational.
“As it stands now, it is very difficult for some victims of sexual assault and abuse to foot bills if a medical examination form is issued to them to visit health facilities to receive medical care.
Mr. Amadu Alhassan, also a participant pointed out that victims of sexual abuse who were already in pain were made to pay so many medical bills per the discretion of the medical officer, a situation which prevented many of them from reporting sexual abuses they suffered.
He said some cultural practices such as child marriage and widowhood rites has forced many girls and women into marriage, which has prevented them from achieving their goals in life.
He added that some of these cultural practices need to be nipped in the bud to allow more women to have access to opportunities to achieve gender equality.