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SWIDA deeply concerned 6.8% of women experienced physical violence while pregnant

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On Friday, November 24, 2023, the Ghana Statistical Service reported, as part of its preliminary findings from the 2022 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) Report, that two in every five (41.6%) women aged 15 to 49 who have ever had an intimate partner have experienced at least one form of intimate partner violence (IPV), the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has said.

This violence includes emotional, physical, or sexual violence.

The service underscored that 35.2 percent of these women had experienced emotional violence at least once; 22.7 percent had experienced physical violence at least once, and 11.2 percent had experienced sexual violence at least once.

Also, it said that overall, one in every three (33.2%) women aged 15 to 49 years in Ghana had experienced physical violence since age 15 years.

“Further, one in every ten (12.2%) women in this age group reported experiencing physical violence often or sometimes in the 12 months preceding the survey, and 6.8 percent experienced physical violence while pregnant. The Central Region (44.6%) had the highest percentage of women who had experienced physical violence since age 15, followed by the Savannah (42.9%) and Volta (40.2%) regions. The lowest rates of physical violence were recorded in the Upper West (23.7%) and North East (23.7%) regions.”

Again, the GSS said 14.1 percent of women aged 15 to 49 had experienced sexual violence.

If the incidence of violence is to be reduced, Savannah Women Integrated Development Agency (SWIDA) advocates a thorough change in mindset, particularly at the community level.

Khadijah Abdul-Samed, the Gender and Communication Officer for SWIDA, speaking with Mark Smith in connection with the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, said, “one of the statistics that shocked me, Mark, was that between 2008 and 2022, physical violence against pregnant women increased from 5.2 percent to 6.8 percent. This begs the question: What would make a group of people want to now see a pregnant woman, women who are bearing children that have not even touched the surface of the earth, suffer physical violence?”

“I’ll tell you why. It is because we have made it look normal that a woman is okay to hit. So now, [people think], what difference does it make if the stomach looks a little different because, at the end of the day, she is still a woman. So you would realize that we would need to target the mindset and the belief systems. It is the belief systems that push these kinds of thinking if we go to the grassroots of this.”

Ms. Abdul-Samed was quick to add that not all cultural belief systems and traditions cause gender-based violence. She continued to say that the length of the activism against gender-based violence is justified because of the enormity of the task at hand.

The global campaign, running from November 25th to December 10th, aims to end violence against women and girls, with this year’s theme being “Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls.”

“Just as it is to deal with deep-seated cultural belief systems, the 16 days, to me, represent that long period it would take for us to be able to get this done. That is why it is not just one day. Again, the dimensions of GBV are a lot; there is economic, there is psychological, there’s sexual, there’s physical, and there’s so much more coming up.”

Ms. Abdul-Samed insisted that Ghana’s progress would continue to lack if issues of gender-based violence aren’t addressed wholly.

Savannah Integrated Rural Development Aid (SIRDA) originated in 1995 as a youth-centered NGO formed by university graduates from the Nanumba Traditional area. Officially registered in 2005 as a non-profit, non-sectarian, and non-governmental organization (NGO), SIRDA initially focused on voluntary advocacy and awareness creation regarding education and women’s rights in the Nanumba North District of the Northern Region. With a primary emphasis on empowering women, the organization underwent a rebranding in 2017, changing its name to Savannah Women Integrated Development Agency (SWIDA) to underscore its commitment to women as catalysts for development change.

Meanwhile, the Development Research and Advocacy Centre (DRAC) is advocating for a government bill that economically empowers survivors of gender-based violence and clearly outlines the psychological support they will receive. DRAC emphasizes the need to address gender-based violence in Ghana, citing cultural systems and beliefs as barriers to effective solutions.

Source: A1Radioonline.Com | 101.1MHZ | Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith | Bolgatanga

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