No proof has been provided about the forgery, and as an hon. Member of this House I will not say anything that I think will injure another person's reputation. I will only ask, even if it was forged, was it forged to dupe and collect money from the State? No, it was to urge hon. Members to support this Bill.
I do not see any conflict, whether in Christianity or in traditional worship, where it is allowed to beat somebody. Even if it was happening, our laws today would not allow it, because of the democratic culture that we all want to enjoy. This law is in the right direction. Those who argue that we are equally affected by the law, indeed - Again, I will want to say that predominantly because society as we know it today has been male dominated, if there is any suffering, it is the female who suffers most.
In Ghana we tend to be in a state of denial, and this is very painful because when we are talking about the serious thing affecting another person, others say, “Oh, but it happens to any other person; it is happening here”. Look, children and women are mostly affected by any violence in the domestic setting.
Therefore, all that the Bill is seeking to say is to emphasize what the ill is. Otherwise what business do we have passing a law like this? It must identify the target group, the benefits that are supposed to accrue to people. And therefore, all the arguments about marriage institutions - We are not talking about marriage here; we are talking about violence in the domestic setting. And it can take place whether one
is married or not.
Many people are in ‘domestic' situations that are not marriages. Therefore, if we use the words, “marriage harmony” or “marriage institution” as a sanctified institution that cannot be disturbed when others are going through serious human rights violation then we cannot boast as a country that we are civilized.
Nii Amasah Namoale (NDC - Dade
Kotopon): Mr. Speaker, today is a historic day for us in Ghana. Mr. Speaker, we have before us a Bill that touches on our social and cultural fabrics. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all the stakeholders. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to all of them, especially the traditional leaders, the religious leaders, the non- governmental organisations (NGOs) that discussed the provisions of the Bill before its submission to Parliament.
Mr. Speaker, sometimes the gender- based laws do not adequately define ‘domestic violence' and ‘domestic relationships'. Mr. Speaker, sexual harassment that affects women in employment and female students is also not defined in our existing laws. Mr. Speaker, civil remedies, in my opinion, are not adequate to address domestic violence. With this Bill, definition is made of domestic violence, domestic relationships and sexual harassment.
Mr. Speaker, this Bill will make it mandatory for the police, social workers and health officials to assist in domestic
violence situations. I welcome the Bill because it will provide the comprehensive legal framework to address domestic violence. I want us to consider the alternative dispute resolution aspect of this Bill carefully for victims not to suffer further abuse or further emotional injuries. Let us consider it.
Mr. Speaker, I would like the House to
consider the plight of victims in having to bear the medical expenses for the police to get the medical report in order to effect prosecution of cases.
With this, Mr. Speaker, I would like to
support the motion on the floor and urge all hon. Colleagues to vote for this Bill.
Mr. Maxwell Kofi Jumah (NPP
- Asokwa): Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity to support the Bill. Mr. Speaker, as much as I support this Bill, there is one reservation that I have and that is the deletion of the marital rape clause. I believe that there is no such thing as conjugal right over another person. Somebody said that in relationships, it should be “jaw-jaw” instead of “fight- fight”. And for some of us here, I think we are doing a very good job, when we “jaw-jaw”; that is why we got elected.
Mr. Speaker, I want to make one or two points. The effects of domestic violence, especially on our children - empirical studies done here and elsewhere has proven that children from abusive families tend to be lower performers in school, even sometimes at work. They tend to be violent when they grow up. And in schools, especially the elementary schools, they tend to be bullies.
We have seen that some of the children who grow up under abusive families, tend to have low self-esteem. In fact, sometimes at work when they are bosses, they tend to use their offices to exploit
people who work under them. So it is not a domestic violence issue; it is societal problem.
I would not go too much into it except to say that I am hoping that our NGOs, our churches and our mosques would set up, as indicated in the Bill, shelters, especially for the battered women, if you consider the fact that most of the violence usually occur at night, at the time that the woman is most vulnerable.
They should now open up shelters in their churches and mosques and other places; they should let the whole community know that shelters are available just in case one happened to be abused. This is because, there are so many instances when women and children are abused, and they are also trapped because they have nowhere else to go.
Mr. Speaker, I also want to add that usually the abusers do not have criminal minds. Of course, if one commits a crime, he must be punished but then they would need counselling and help because really it is a sickness that must be dealt with by psychiatrists and psychologists.
With these few words, I want to support the motion.