Women and girls continue to suffer inequality and violence across the world. Violence is considered the most widespread violation of human rights. Global statistics indicate that one in three women is affected by violence in her lifetime.
Although violence against women and girls knows no colour, creed or social status, marginalised women and girls are the most affected. It not only has a significant impact on women’s and girls’ lives, but it also destabilises the development of communities and countries.
The UN General Assembly, in 1979, adopted the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) regarding violence against women and girls. Since 25th November, 1981, the date has been celebrated every year to give more attention to violence against women, and in remembrance of the three Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic who were brutally murdered on the orders of the then ruler of the country Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961) – their only crime being that they were political activists.
In Ghana, gender-based violence is a prevalent phenomenon, and despite efforts by human rights and gender activists and civil society groups to end it, many women continue to suffer in silence. From very prominent women, educated women, and middle-class women to the illiterate – no one is spared. So, though there has been a lot of hard work to promote and ensure the safety of women and girls, there is still a long way before the desired success is achieved.
The statistics available at the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) show that between January to April 2021, a recorded total of 4879 cases were reported. The incident ranged from defilement, death threats, rape, offensive conduct, non-maintenance, assault, among others. Yet violence against women and girls often goes unreported, out of fear and stigma.
Also, some people are of the opinion that violence toward women and girls is normal, or that it is a private matter. Then, there is also the situation of a lack of political will by many governments to acknowledge the situation, prosecute perpetrators, and offer victims the necessary support.
Unfortunately, a lot of us lack awareness of gender-based violence, and do not even know our rights and the channels through which we can access these rights when need be. It is time for women, men, girls, boys, and everyone to take a stand against violence by speaking up, not judging, stigmatising or shaming victims, and to stop covering up for perpetrators.
There is so much more that needs to be done to help end gender-based violence. Firstly, we need to acknowledge that women and girls have the right to inhabit spaces just like men and boys; and girls and women deserve to feel secure in every environment and also get rid of the premise on which gender-based violence thrives. To achieve this would take our collective efforts – not women and girls only. Let’s unite in activism to end violence against women and girls!
>>>the writer is a Public Relations Professional, Gender Activist and Sports enthusiast. She holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy from the University of Ghana and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from the Ghana Institute of Journalism. She can be reached on [email protected]