Ghana government asked to remove charges on medical form for rape victims

Mrs Mercy Acquah Hayford, the National Director of International Network for Religious Leaders living with or personally affected by HIV/AIDS (INERELA+ Ghana) has appealed to government to, as a matter of urgency, remove fees on medical forms for survivors of rape or defilement.

Currently, rape and defilement victims are required to pay about GH¢500 to access to medical forms and medical care.

Speaking in an interview with the media on the sideline of a sensitation programme organised to commemorate this year’s 16 Days Activism Against Sexual and Gender-based Violence at Maamobi, in Accra, Mrs Acquah-Hayford said scrapping such charges were critical if more survivors were to report such cases and access medical care.

She said: “I think government should come up with a policy where these things should be free, because if I have been defiled or raped, then, I go to the hospital and the doctor tells me because I will go to court, you have to pay this. And the charge is universal.

“In those days, it was GH¢500. Where is the survivor or victim going to get that GH¢500 from? So, when they go, they don’t come back. But when we do that, those who are supposed to get the pre-exposure prophylaxis and post exposure prophylaxis are not getting it. They are ending up with more HIV in the system, so, government should come out to take that GH¢500 or whatever fees is being charged.”

The 16 Days Activism Against Sexual and Gender-based Violence was on the theme: “UNITE! Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls.”

The 16 Days of Activism is an international campaign marked between November 25 and December 10, every year to fight violence against women and girls.

Data from the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service indicates that 710 cases of physical abuse, 305 cases of rape, 1,047 cases of defilement, 77 cases of economic abuse and 913 cases of emotional abuse were recorded in 2020.

Again, a 2016 Domestic Violence Survey in Ghana also revealed that approximately, 27.7 per cent of Ghanaian women had experienced at least one form of domestic violence being either physical, economic, psychological, social, or sexual violence in their life-time.

Mrs Acquah-Hayford, while commending the country for the progress made in ending gender-based violence over the last 30 years called for more policies to eradicate the canker.

One of such policies, she said was to immediately make access to medical forms by rape or defiled survivors free.

Mrs Acquah-Hayford charged women to be vocal especially when they were abused to ensure that perpetrators were not emboldened.

She also advised that parents invested more in their children’s education, especially the girls, to empower them.

DSP Mavis Adjei, Coordinator, Nima Divisional DOVVSU, said the unit had seen a significant rise in gender-based cases including rape, incest and defilement.

She, however, bemoaned the continuous treatment of such cases by some community and religious leaders as family issues, thus, failing to report them to the appropriate authorities for the necessary action to be taken against the perpetrators.

She urged them to report cases of such nature to the authorities explaining that, early reporting of such cases were crucial to help avert any possible health issues including sexually transmitted diseases.

Mrs Rosemond Opoku Agyem, a Senior Social Development Officer, Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, Ayawaso North Municipal Assembly, also noted that teenage pregnancy was on the ascendancy in the community, especially among girls between the ages of 12 and 13 years.

“Some are not even aware they are pregnant. The majority of such cases after our investigations identified child neglect as the reason,” she said, urging parents to be more responsible to help curb the trend.

Meanwhile, she said, the department had witnessed a significant rise in the reporting of cases of gender-based violence and other related cases and commended the community for their efforts.

Mrs Paulina Louisa Essel, a Counselling Psychologist noted that many women had suffered mental health due to the abusive relationship they found themselves.

She advised that under no circumstance should a woman continue to endure abuse from their husbands all in the name of love and urged them immediately before such abuses got worse.

Source: GNA

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