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Cultural practices not corresponding to constitution are illegal – CHRAJ

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Mr Daniel Mensah, Senior Principal Investigative Officer of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has stressed that all cultural practices not corresponding to the spirit of the 1992 constitution should be deemed illegal.

He said in that vein, trokosi, wife inheritance and other dehumanizing rites were prohibited.

Mr Mensah was speaking at a Volta Regional Directorate of the Department of Women at a media engagement in Ho.

Trokosi is a practice of ritual servitude to shrines in parts of the Volta Region, Togo and Benin by young virgins especially for supposed misdeeds by members of their families.

The media engagement was under the auspices of the UNFPA under its Sixth Country Programme (CP6) to strengthen the region’s capacity to address gender-based violence, women’s reproductive health issues and harmful cultural practices.

Mr Mensah who presented a paper on Existing Laws Addressing Gender-Based Violence and Women’s Reproductive Health, said besides the constitution, there were criminal codes and international charters under which perpetrators of such acts could be handled.

He said it was a gross affront to the justice system for families of victims of rape and defilement to arrange reparations and thereby set culprits free.

“Crime is not settled it is prosecuted,” Mr Mensah stated.

Miss Lena Alai, Volta Regional Director of the Department of Women, gave an overview of rape, defilement and other cases, during the first three quarters of the year 2013 in the Volta Region.

She said there were 144 defilement, 34 rape cases and 13 illegal abortions reported during the period, while 175 defilement, 43 rape cases and 16 illegal abortions were reported for the whole of 2012.

Miss Alai appealed to journalists to follow-up on reported cases at the police stations and the courts so that victims were not short-changed.

Thywill Eyra Kpe, a staff of the Regional Directorate of the Department of Women said her findings in a study on Culture and the Rural Woman’s Decision Making on Family Planning indicated that a lot more needed to be done in the area for the desired results to be achieved.

She said challenges of the family planning policies and programmes include male hegemony, preference of the male child and misconceptions.

Mrs Kpe said some women went for family planning services secretly because of the hostility of their husbands towards family planning issues.

She suggested that client services should be improved to strengthen Client-Nurse trust.

Mr Bawa Amadu, Assistant Representative of UNFPA said there would be more media engagements in the coming years to consolidate gains made in the above mentioned areas and tackle challenges.

Source: GNA

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