Gender based violence against women predominant in private sphere – Minkah Premo

Category: General News 7

Mrs Sheila Minkah-Premo, Apex Law Consultant and Gender Activist, said women suffered several gender based violence in the private sphere due to their sexual category.

She called for prosecution of perpetrators and the results of the prosecution made public to serve as deterrent to others.

Mrs Minkah-Premo said this in a document mailed to the Ghana News Agency on “The State of Gender Based Violence Response in Ghana” that highlights violence against women in the private sphere and assesses how far laws and policies have helped to curb the acts of violence identified.

She identified forced or child marriages, denial of the right to a share of jointly acquired property and spousal killings as few gender based violence women suffered in the private sphere owing to their sex.

She expressed worry about incessant media reports of parents or guardians forcing their young daughters to marry against their will and even compelling them to leave school to stay on the marriage.

Mrs Minkah-Premo said section 14 of the Children’s Act, 1998 (Act 560), fixed the age for marriage at 18 years and prohibited forced marriages.

She, however, said the status of the prosecution of such cases were uncertain, and asked that perpetrators of such crimes be prosecuted and results of the prosecution made public to dissuade others.

On Property Rights of Spouses, Mrs Minkah-Premo said women suffered violence regarding access to and the distribution of jointly acquired properties at divorce and at the death of husbands.

She said Article 22 of the 1992 Constitution placed obligation on Parliament to enact legislation to ensure that jointly acquired properties in the course of a marriage were equitably distributed.

In view of this, she said the Attorney General’s Department prepared Property Rights of Spouses Bill (PRSB) and Intestate Succession Bill (ISB) which were laid before Parliament in October 2009.

She said the aim of PRSB was to set standards by which the courts would share jointly acquired properties at divorce while the ISB was to enact a new law to replace the Intestate Succession Law, 1985 (PNDCL 111).

It was also to make provision for spouses to get an equitable share of jointly acquired properties before distribution of an intestate spouse’s estate,” she said.

Mrs Minkah-Premo expressed regret that up to date neither of those Bills had been passed into law and both would lapse when the current Parliament rose for the last time in December 2012.

“In the meantime Ghanaian women who have toiled with their husbands to acquire landed properties, which due to illiteracy and cultural stereotypes, are in the names of their male counterparts risk not having any share in such properties,” she said.

Mrs Minka-Premo expressed the fear that the situation would not only make women economically deprived but suffer psychological harm resulting in physical ailments.

She, however, expressed happiness that the Supreme Court, in February 2012, delivered a landmark judgment in a case involving a woman who jointly acquired several properties with her civil servant husband, to have an equal share of such properties.

According to Mrs Minkah-Premo the Supreme Court used Article 22 of the 1992 Constitution and the internationally accepted concept of the “Jurisprudence of Equality” to arrive at their judgement.

She said even though that case served as a good precedent, women wanted the PRSB and the ISB passed to address the lapses in PNDCL 111.

She urged Parliament to live up to its responsibility and the Ministry of Justice, supported by Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, to push for the enactment of those two laws.

Mrs Minkah-Premo said domestic violence continued to be a problem in Ghana that needed to be tackled holistically and effectively to ensure family cohesion and national development.

She said there were evidence of women being maimed or killed by their male partners, but was quick to add that women also perpetrated violence against their children and domestic workers that were unacceptable and should be prosecuted as well.

She said various initiatives had been taken by stakeholders including the setting up of shelters by some non governmental organisations, the setting up of  the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit by the Ghana Police Service and advocacy for the enactment of a law to address domestic violence.

Mrs Minkah-Premo  recalled that in 2007 the Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732) was enacted to address all forms of violence that occurred in the domestic setting including physical, psychological, verbal, sexual, and economic violence.

She said it was regrettable that in spite of efforts made in the areas of policy formulation and enactment of laws, gender based violence against women was still high in Ghana.

Source: GNA

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