This report represents the culmination of a large research project which examined the phenomenon of Gender-based violence (GBV) in Ghanaian schools, otherwise stated as school related GBV.
As this report will show, this unfortunate phenomenon exists in Ghana partially thanks to two foundational elements. The first is that the concept and topic of violence itself has in fact become an integral part of customary family and community life. In Ghana, some violence is valued as a common and effective punishment for misbehaving children and the child’s consistent exposure to such treatment causes them to internalize the values. In the process, it has become culturally engrained in young children to perceive some forms of violent punishments as acceptable. As a result, they often do not recognize it as an aspect that could be absent from their childhood experience. These ideas make children more susceptible to violence and additionally see violence as a proper and necessary means for solving conflicts amongst each other.23
With violence being a culturally engrained attitude within communities, it is to be expected that it will permeate the school system. Ideas of traditional gender roles complicate the issue at hand and this cultural background provides one of the principal foundations that allow Gender-Based Violence (GBV) to develop in schools.
The other foundational element is the lack of general knowledge concerning GBV. Many Ghanaians are unaware of the multitude of characteristics the term encompasses and there is an absence of readily available information on the topic.
This report will go into further detail about the definition and scope of GBV, but in simplified terms, it refers to violence that is inflicted upon someone because of their gender or when violence is experienced differently between males and females. School related GBV involves GBV that occurs within the school or in the environment surrounding the school (including on the way to and from school). School related GBV may occur between students or between teachers or other staff and students. It can involve any type of physical, emotional or sexual violence or other harmful cultural practices. GBV is a prevalent problem within Ghanaian schools, but because of lack of knowledge on GBV, it is often overlooked.
These two foundational elements which permit GBV to exist have a number of negative implications for Ghanaian school children. For instances, the most common connotation of GBV is that it is mainly directed towards females, and that males are generally unaffected. However, studies in fact show that both males and females experience GBV and are greatly impacted by its repercussions. This misconception largely comes from the standard association of GBV with solely sexual violence. While the majority of previous research has been directed towards sexual violence, this report will examine all categories and characteristics of GBV to provide a more comprehensive understanding.
Furthermore, the cultural normality of GBV causes a severe rarity in reporting incidents of GBV. As children are desensitized to the nature of violence within the classroom, they become less likely to report occurrences to an adult. This issue thus results in the prevalence of GBV as well as the lack of general knowledge. Since GBV is often not brought to the attention of authorities, it becomes increasingly overlooked and misrepresented.
Nevertheless a legal framework in place prohibiting acts of GBV. For example, the Children’s Act 1998 protects children from degrading or dehumanising behaviour that can potentially cause physical harm4. But there are some loopholes and contradictions in the framework. For instance the Children’s Act provides that children should not be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment5; yet the Criminal Code 1960 rationalises that force and harm can be justified when an authority is correcting a child for misconduct6. This demonstrates that many issues of GBV are not being properly addressed by legal standards; however, some policies have developed more specific initiatives.
There are also multiple organisations and ministries already in place which work towards the protection of children. The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) plays a large role in the Ghanaian government with addressing issues of human rights violations. More specifically, the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) within the Ghana Police Service protect the rights of citizens against any forms of abuse, including GBV.7Although this is a legitimate resource for reporting incidents of GBV, it is not often utilised.
Regardless of these resources and organizations, GBV continues to be a widespread issue in Ghana. This reasoning, coupled with aforementioned issues and misconceptions, demonstrates the need for further research and examination of GBV. Therefore, The Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC), funded by STAR-Ghana, initiated a fieldwork research project on GBV in Schools.The main objective was to ascertain the extent of GBV in schools throughout selected regions of Ghana and to analyse the effects of GBV and the measures needed for preventing, mitigating and responding to incidents.
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Chief Executive Officer of Obenfo hospital, Dr Obeng-Andoh has been charged with murder following the mysterious death of Deputy CEO of National Entrepreneurship Innovative Programme (NEIP).
Stacy Offie Darko is reported to have passed away at the Obenfo Hospital in Accra on Monday, May 21, 2018.
However, the hospital authorities decided to deposit her body at the morgue four days after her death without informing her family members.
According to the family, the body of the deceased was deposited at the morgue within four hours after her death and was informed about the incident three days later.
This development infuriated the family and friends of the deceased leading to the arrest of Dr Obeng Andoh.
According to Joy News’ Matilda Wemegah, the Dr. Obeng Andoh came to the Accra Magistrate Court on Tuesday in the company of doctors from the Police Hospital.
She said the police told the court the suspect has been receiving medical treatment since last week Thursday after he was arrested.
Dr Obeng Andoh who is the first accused has been formally charged with murder contrary to section 46 of the criminal offences Act.
The second accused, Edward Amponsah, who is a cleaner at the hospital, has also been charged with impersonation contrary to section 134 of the criminal offences Act 29.
Both suspects were picked up last week after an official report was made by the mother of the deceased, Nana Akosua Anima (I).
According to Detective Chief Inspector, Simon Apiorsornu, the Stacy Offei Darko reported to the hospital on May 20, for liposuction and fat transfer surgery.
She reportedly died halfway through the process the next day. Dr Obeng Andoh, together with Mr Amponsah prepared her body for the morgue.
However, at the St. Gregory Hospital at Buduburam, the body was accepted into the morgue because the cleaner posed as the elder brother of the late Deputy CEO of NEIP.
The family of the deceased got wind of the situation on May 24 and reported to the police.
Dr Obeng fell ill last Friday after he was arrested and has been on admission at the hospital since.
He has been remanded into police custody after he was denied bail. Due to his visible ill health, he will be on admission to the hospital to assist in investigation till he re-appears on June 15.
The Human Rights Advocacy Centre lauds the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice for seeking legal redress in the case involving two former employees of the Ghana National Fire Service who were dismissed for getting pregnant within the first three years of their employment in the Service. We also commend the Accra High Court for upholding the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana and other legal obligations, including under international law by making a landmark decision in the protection of the right of Ghanaian women to work.
According to reports, the two women were dismissed for getting pregnant within three years of their employment by the Ghana National Fire Service. The dismissal was effected in accordance with the Ghana National Fire Service Regulations which prohibits female recruits from getting pregnant within the first three years of their employment into the Service.
The decision of the Court is highly commendable because it does not only protect women’s right to work but has the rippling effect of protecting women’s right to equal work opportunities as well as their sexual and reproductive health rights which must not be subjected to any form of interference, subject only to health implications.
The right to work is fundamental to the enjoyment of a dignified life for every person. Article 24 of the 1992 Constitution therefore reinforces the equality right of all persons to work. Article 27 of the Constitution further reinforces women’s right to work by making additional provisions on paid maternity leave and provision of facilities for the care of children under school-going age, to protect women in the work space.
In the wake of this landmark decision, we must ensure that these constitutional stipulations are adhered to by undertaking the necessary reforms and development as well as the implementation of complimentary laws and policies to ensure the full realization and enjoyment of women’s right to work.
We therefore call for an amendment of the Labour Act 2003 to include provisions on paternity leave and an extension of the maternity leave period from three to six months to allow for a reasonable period of rest before delivery and breastfeeding as well as proper care of new born babies after delivery. We also call for improved implementation of the Early Childhood Care and Development Policy, especially in relation to day care centres through standardized curriculum and more trained teachers to ensure quality and holistic development of under school-going age children.
The Human Rights Advocacy Centre keenly looks forward to these successive inroads as we celebrate this groundbreaking decision.
Human Rights Advocacy Centre.
On 11th April 2018, Ghana was horrified when Joy FM report on Prosper, a 9 week old baby whose life was terminated when he was taken off oxygen supply at the St. Gregory Hospital at Kasoa in the Central Region. The decision to cut oxygen supply to the child who was reported to be unable to breathe on his own was as a result of the mother’s inability to assure a medical doctor on duty of her ability to pay a sum of GHS533, being accrued medical bill for the supply of oxygen. It is even more saddening to learn that shortly after the death of Prosper, his father rushed to the hospital with the money to settle the baby’s medical bill. The story may be accessed on https://www.myjoyonline.com/business/2018/April-11th/kasoa-baby-dies-as-doctor-cuts-oxygen-supply-over-nonpayment-of-bills.php.
The right to life is a fundamental human right. Accordingly, under no circumstance should a person be deprived of this right, not even in the event of having been found culpable of a capital offence. Ghana’s Constitution Review Commission has recommended that death penalty be abolished which was accepted by government. It is therefore unacceptable that the doctor who belongs to a profession which is entrusted with human life, and who has taken an oath to protect and save lives should take a decision, and put into action such decision to terminate Prosper’s life. This decision and action thereon was not because little Prosper committed an offence (in which case termination of his life will even be unacceptable), but because his parents were unable to pay for service rendered him.
The Human Rights and Advocacy Centre therefore condemns the act of the medical doctor and wishes to state that investigations by the Ghana Health Service and the superiors of the health facility is not enough. That we consider it inadequate for this matter to be treated only as a case of professional misconduct. We therefore call for police investigations into the matter and prosecution of the medical doctor involved for his deliberate and unconscionable conduct leading to the death of little Prosper. We believe that his prosecution will not only send a message to duty bearers and service providers to uphold high standards of care especially where their services relate to fundamental human rights, but also send a clear message to everyone that Ghana upholds the rule of law in all situations irrespective of the status of affected persons.
It is on this note that we have petitioned the Inspector General of Police with notice to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and the Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice to initiate investigations into this matter and prosecute the medical doctor involved to bring justice to Prosper’s family. We also call on government to strengthen the National Health Insurance Scheme to enable vulnerable populations access health care.
The Human Rights and Advocacy Centre is committed to ensuring the realisation, respect, promotion and protection of the human rights of all persons, especially the vulnerable. We assure the general public that we will follow up with the Ghana Police Service on this matter.
12th April, 2018.
The first half of the year 2016 was focused on implementing the two projects, and the completion of the CSOs shadow report in response to List of Issue for the implementation of the ICCPR and the work on one proposal and two concept notes on juveniles in adult prison and torture. HRAC employed a full-time Finance/Administrative Coordinator in the person of Ms Elizabeth Mensah. Ms Mensah replaced Mr Gershon Botchway whose 6 months part-time appointment elapsed on 31st May 2016. In May 2016, Ms Philomina Ahiable took over form Mr George Owoo as the new Acting Executive Director of the HRAC.
HRAC marked the International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO) in six Regions in Ghana. Ms Philomena Ahiable participated in the 58th UN Women Convention in New York, and Ms Wendy Abbey represented HRAC at the June 2016 review of Ghana on the ICCPR. HRAC was represented by Mr George Owoo at meetings with the Human Rights Ambassadors of the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the US Embassy, and at a Roundtable with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture in Accra. In all HRAC honoured about twenty invitations to participate in stakeholders meetings. This include the CSOs Platform on the Post 2015 SDGs, ILO meeting on Research Dissemination, the GFD Validation Meeting on the Amendment of the PDA, West African Human Rights Defenders Network Meeting at CHRAJ, GNECC/GI-ESCR Strategic Planning Meeting at Winneba, and the Technical Working Committee on Stigma and Discrimination at the Ghana Aids Commission.
HRAC also had visiting meetings with representatives from the Wilfred Laurie University of Canada, Ms Emelia Goland from the RFSU, Australian Ambassador Andrew Barnas and Rustum G. Nyquist of the US Embassy.
HRAC undertook human rights and advocacy projects in the area of sexual and reproductive health rights, Lesbians Gays Bisexuals and Transgenders and Key and vulnerable populations’ rights. HRAC led the process that resulted in civil society engagement with the UN Human Rights Committee on the review of Ghana on the ICCPR.
Collaboration with other CSOs and State Actors remains one of our core values as we seek to make impart in our advocacy work. In 2016 HRAC collaborated with the West African AIDS Foundation (WAAF) and the Ghana Coalition of NGOs Health to implement SRHR and access to LGBT rights and healthcare projects. The partnership with human rights organisations during our engagement with the UN Human Rights Committee was a one of the powerful collaboration of the year 2016.
To strengthen our role as a leading human rights advocacy and legal service provider our human rights clinic received and processed of 78 cases. The Clinic also conducted school and community outreaches as part of our community sensitization and know your rights activities. We implemented two advocacy projects and held government accountable on it performance on ICCPR.
It is our pleasure to celebrate our success with you as we share with you some of our achievements in the year. We also through this report wish to thank you for your support and look forward to more collaboration as we work to ‘bring right to life’ for all persons living in Ghana.
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