Hon Members, order! Let us listen to the Hon Member on the floor; there is too much noise at the background.
Continue, Hon Member.
Hajia Boforo: All right.
Mr. Speaker, it also includes sexual, physical, or emotional abuse by an intimate partner; physical or sexual abuse by family members or others; sexual harassment and abuse by people in authority; and trafficking for forced labour or sex. Violence against women
also occurs in traditional practices such as forced or child marriages and dowry- related violence.
Mr. Speaker, systematic sexual abuse in conflict situations is another form of violence against women.
The World Health Organization's (WHO) survey in some countries across the globe this year indicates that between 15 per cent and 71 per cent of women reported physical or sexual violence by a husband or partner. Equally unfortunately, trafficking of women and girls for forced labour and sex is widespread.
In Ghana, like many African countries, Mr. Speaker, the status of women has been determined by the kind of girlhood they have had. Traditional values, cultural norms as well as socializing processes, all appear to bestow a low status on the girl- child and low status on women.
In fact, the whole of the woman's life is governed by customary, legislative and religious laws which are often very discriminatory in marriages, divorce and inheritance (the case of the widow), and support the perpetration of gender violence.
Mr. Speaker, the right of the husband to correct his wife is condoned in customary law, and domestic violence considered as a family affair.
Violence against women in most cases goes unreported. Majority of these victims are afraid to lose their marital status, while some are very ignorant of their rights. For others, they will prefer to die under such tortures because they have no other means of subsistence.
Mr. Speaker, widows and battered women remain very vulnerable, miserable, marginalized and often rejected by their families or in-laws. They remain traumatized in their various difficult
conditions or survive by chance. Such inhuman practices inflicted on widows in some West African countries include: sleeping on the bare floors, mats or leaves, eating from the floor or on leaves; being forced to drink the water used in cleaning the corpses of their late husbands to prove that they are innocent of their death.
Mr. Speaker, these harmful attitudes towards women are reinforced by certain religious and other community leaders, who exhort women to stand by their husbands under all circumstances, while at the same time failing to take a clear stand against wife battery and marital rape. Also, rape of under-age girls by men within the family circle, such as brothers, fathers and stepfathers remains a big problem in the society.
In the area of culture, Mr. Speaker, some communities still practice trokosi, an outlawed custom which involves ritual servitude and sexual exploitation of girls.
There is constant disregard of the law against female genital mutilation (FGM), which is still prevalent among several ethnic groups, although the law that criminalized the act in 1994 was further strengthened in 2007 by Parliament. Some women are still branded as witches and are often violently driven to witches' camps.
Mr. Speaker, the consequences of these inhuman acts are indeed worrisome. Aside the reproductive and maternal health problems, many women die and properties are being confiscated.
I call on all Ghanaians and other stakeholders to collaborate effectively with us to act accordingly, and where necessary, compel the customary system to fully respect the rights of women and girls enshrined in our Constitution and laws.
In particular, Government and other relevant actors must denounce publicly, all forms of violence against women and girls including marital rape, wife beating, child and other forced marriages, trokosi, female genital mutilation (FGM) and humiliating widowhood rites.
More crucially, Mr. Speaker, gender- sensitive media reporting must also be promoted to avoid stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes towards women, and ensure respect for victims and their families when covering incidents of violence against women.
As citizens, we owe it a duty to respect the rights of the human, without regard to gender. I believe this virtue can help us secure the future of humanity and make the world a better place to live in.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity.