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General News Tue, 12 May 2009

Women in Northern Ghana have little access to justice - Survey

Tamale, May 12, GNA - A study conducted by the Institute of Local Government Studies, has shown that women in the Northern Ghana have little access to justice, even with the passage of the Domestic Violence Law.

The research said the courts, Legal Aid and Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit were non-existent in most districts the survey was conducted, making it difficult for women in the north to report cases of human rights abuse.

Dr Callistus Mahama, the Deputy Director of the Institute of Local Government Studies, who carried out the study entitled: "Women's Access to Justice and the Court System in Ghana - A case study of Northern Ghana", presented the findings in Tamale on Monday. Dr Mahama said women continued to be denied access to justice because they constituted the chunk of the country's poor and vulnerable people and could hardly pay to have their grievances redressed due to the high cost of justice.

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He said negative socio-cultural practices and low-level of education had also contributed to the denial of women access to justice since most of them particularly those from the North were illiterate. Dr Mahama called for increased education for women and the public on the justice systems the country in order to enlighten people and bring about equity and improved accessibility. The research recommended that the government, civil society organisations and other stakeholders ensure the abolishment of obnoxious cultural practices that continued to hinder access to justice in the country particularly in Northern Ghana. The Northern Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Mr Iddrisu Dagia, who reviewed the research, noted that the language was technical and quite above the understanding of the ordinary person.

He, therefore, advised that future studies should take note of that and make the report more reader friendly for the ordinary person. Mr Dagia, however, commended the researcher for delving into such a sensitive area of public concern and said there was the need for greater advocacy to help women in Northern Ghana to have access to justice. He was not happy that even though the Domestic Violence Law had been passed, only few people were aware of it.

Madam Saratu Mahama, Northern Regional Director of the Federation of Women Lawyers, who launched the book, appealed to Government to resource institutions mandated to carry out justice so that women's rights would always be protected.

Source: GNA
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