MOWAC schools Journalists on Domestic Violence

From William N-lanjerborr Jalulah, Tamale

Mrs. Juliana Azumah Mensah, Minister of Women & Children Affairs

Thirty journalists and media practitioners from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions have attended a media training workshop on Domestic Violence and ethics reporting in the Northern Regional capital, Tamale, organised by the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs.

The two-day training programme delved into the Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732), which is aimed at providing an enabling environment, and the necessary mandate for more co-coordinated response to domestic violence in Ghana.

The Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, the central management agency charged with policy formulation and lead oversight responsibility for co-coordinating the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732), provides the framework for such coordinated response through the National Domestic Violence Policy and National Plan of Action, which is to guide the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act by all stakeholders.

The policy sets out a problem statement, identifies goals, objectives and outcomes.

It also includes a legal context and guiding principles, by which programmes, protocols and procedures can be measured in relation to stated goals.

A final section on Monitoring and Evaluation is provided to ensure maximum impact of an integrated approach towards eradicating domestic violence in Ghana.

Article 25 (1) of Act 732 stipulates, “Except with the leave of the Court, a person shall not publish a report of the proceedings under this Act, other than criminal proceedings. (2) In a report of criminal proceedings under subsection (1), the reporter shall protect the identity of the victim.

Clause three of the Act stipulates; “A person who contravenes subsection (1) or (2) commits an offence, and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than two hundred and fifty penalty units, or a term of imprisonment of not more than twelve months or to both.

The training programme, which was participatory, gave the participants the opportunity to give their varied experiences on domestic violence and ethics reporting, and the need for cooperation from the public.

Some causes of violence were named as economics, socialisation, power, patriarchy, poor access to education, ignorance, sexual denial/poor sexual performance, religion, poor communication, and frustrations.

In a speech read for her, the Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, Juliana Azumah-Mensah, was optimistic that the training programme would embolden, excite and incite journalists to talk about domestic violence, educate others on its ill-effects, encourage and support people to report domestic violence cases, and ultimately know about the referral system.

The Minister mentioned lack of education, maternal mortality, infant mortality, spread of HID/AIDS, poverty, and unemployment as some of the ill-effects of domestic violence, which invariably affect the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. These, she said, must be addressed concertedly.

Mrs. Azumah-Mensah said the programme was for the participants as trainers of their colleagues who did not get the opportunity to attend the programme. She, therefore, charged journalists to be more responsible in protecting people from such abuses.

The lead facilitator, Hilary Gbedamah of the Law Institute, took the participants through intensive topics – Domestic Violence and Domestic Violence Act – while Mr. Alidu Baba, Northern Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association, also highlighted on reporting ethics on domestic violence.

Some journalists, who spoke to this paper after the programme, said they felt more empowered with knowledge on domestic violence and ethics reporting, as some of them described it as an opener to new things on domestic issues.

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