The British High Commissioner to Ghana, Jon Benjamin has stated that firm sanctions should be issued against perpetrators of sexual violence against women.
While speaking at the maiden edition of TEDxAccraWomen, which was held at his cantonments residence, the British High Commissioner made reference to official figures from the Ministry of Gender and social protection which states that 1 in 5 women in Ghana between the ages of 15-49 experience sexual violence while almost 4 in 10 women within the same age range have experienced physical violence.
He, therefore, called on traditional and religious leaders to play active roles in combatting sexual and physical violence against women.
The British High Commissioner to Ghana also touched on the dehumanizing practice of labeling some women as ‘witches’ in Ghana and isolating them from society.
“I believe there is simply no such thing as a witch. It is rather all too often just a negative label, a term of abuse and offensive insult and sometimes ill-formed collective paranoia. The label “witch” too often serves to dehumanize already vulnerable and marginalized women. Dehumanization is how and why some people still justify condemning marginalized women to lives in which their basic rights are demeaned with no legal process. They become prisoners to life-long poverty which they have no realistic hope of escaping. The people who are termed as witches still have an absolute right to be treated with dignity and respect and not to be subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment,” he said.
“It’s about time to stop condemning women and to start believing in them and practice equal human rights. It’s time to stop stigmatizing vulnerable people. We simply cannot achieve sustainable, equitable and inclusive development anywhere while marginalizing people particularly based on their gender. It’s well established by now that the active and meaningful inclusion of all women and girls in all spheres of life (political, social, economic, cultural) remains critical to the development of a nation. No society anywhere can ever fully develop if half of that society suffers from some degree of marginalization and exclusion and women are half of the society and have the most basic of human rights to equal treatment with men in every aspect of life,” he continued.
Jon Benjamin reiterated the UK government’s commitment to addressing the root causes of gender inequality as a way of empowering girls and women to enable them to have a voice, choice, and control of their lives.
“We want all girls to complete primary and secondary education, we’d like to see universal, sexual and reproductive health rights for girls and women, girls, and women to become more economically empowered, and for all girls and women to live free from violence. Our vision is to positively change society’s, negative perception of girls and women and to help unlock their full potential. We hope that through our collective efforts, this vision will be realized,” he added.
threesixtyGh Writer – Desmond Tawiah