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Regional News Thu, 23 Jun 2005

We are not anti-custom - AWLA

Tamale, June 23, GNA - The African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) has stated that the organisation is not against any custom but rather inhuman cultural norms that demean womanhood. The Association said the practices where women were dragged on the floor, beaten and tortured and made to drink some concoctions to extract confessions in the name of widowhood rites were criminal acts, which AWLA frowned upon.

Ms Effiba Amihere, a private legal practitioner and secretary of AWLA stated AWLA's position at a training workshop on gender advocacy and community legal education for Muslim women in Tamale on Wednesday. About 40 Muslim women from various parts of the Northern, Upper West and Upper East Region are attending the programme, organised by AWLA with sponsorship from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) a non-governmental organisation.

Ms Amihere told the participants that they had the right to judicial remedy when discriminated against saying, "you can seek redress, don't say because I am a woman".

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Ms Amihere said if women allowed men to take all the political decisions, policies would not reflect the true concerns of women and advised participants to take active part in all decision making processes.

Madam Susan Donkor a member of AWLA and a resource person conducted the women through the UN convention on the rights of women and children and said "giving young girls out for marriage is an indirect way of enslaving the children". She urged parents to give their daughters the opportunity to choose their own future husbands in order not to go contravention of the laws. Madam Donkor charged women to allow children to express themselves and give them the necessary exposure so that they could have confidence in themselves. She said handicapped children should not be neglected but must be helped to be self-reliant.

Madam Donkor asked Muslim women to protect the interest of their children and report any individual or group of persons who would make them to go through undue hazardous work to the appropriate authorities.

Source: GNA
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