General News of 2013-12-09

Punish sexual violence perpetrators - Lordina

First lady, Lordina Mahama has called on Governments, the United Nations, the Africa Union and other international organisations to ensure that perpetrators of sexual violence against women in conflict areas are held to account for their actions.

According to her, there must be institutions and structures to hold individuals and organisations accountable for their actions and also provide adequate and timely remedies for victim survivors.

Addressing the Spouses programme of the Elysee Summit for Peace in Africa in Paris, France, Lordina Mahama noted that if perpetrators are not punished, crime will flourish, women’s right would continue to be violated, and past crimes will persist.

Some of the atrocities she noted include rape, forced pregnancy, and forced marriage which are the worst forms of human rights violations and crimes against humanity.

“As a continent, we must strengthen measures to protect women against sexual violence in conflicts. The future of women and their communities is constantly threatened by violence. Even though they are recognised in conflict and disaster situations as agents for peace and security, they remain marginalised in the decision-making processes of their communities,” she added.

Lordina Mahama also used the platform to call for more women participation in peacekeeping to enhance the security of women and children in conflict areas.

"I must say that women can achieve a lot in preventing sexual violence during peacekeeping when given capacity training before deployment” adding that there must be a gender action for peace and security to ensure conflict prevention and using women as sex objects during wars. She noted

The First Lady reiterated the government of Ghana's commitment to joining the African and the international community to fight sexual violence, so as to enhance and build strong violence free and safe places for our dear women and children.

"Since 1998, a Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit has existed within the Ghana Police Service. As of today, the unit has one hundred and six (106) offices across the country to protect victims of violence. We have also worked and continue to collaborate with actors at the West Africa sub-regional level to address women, peace and security issues.” Lordina Mahama told the summit.

The special representative of the United Nations, Ms Zainab Hawa Bangura, observed that sexual violence during conflicts is not peculiar to Africa alone. She emphasised that there must be a concerted effort to prevent sexual violence.

In a communiqué the summit resolved to commit to “raise public awareness to these crimes, to work to prevent them, to work in order to prosecute and punish the perpetrators and to lend a better support to their victims.”