MINISTRY OF GENDER ENGAGES RELIGIOUS AND TRADITIONAL LEADERS ON COVID-19 AWARENESS AND CHILD PROTECTION IN ACCRA
June 26, 2020 1:52 pm
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Department of Community Development, GACA (Ghanaians Against Child Abuse) Secretariat and Obaapa Foundation with support from UNICEF are partnering to train selected Religious and Traditional Leaders in Six (6) regions on COVID-19 and Child Protection.
The Department of Children on behalf of the Ministry together with partners have trained Religious and Traditional Leaders from Volta, Oti, Savannah, Northern and North-East Regions of Ghana from 18th to 25th June, 2020 and their campaign messages have been recorded on prevention on COVID-19 and Child Abuse during this pandemic. The Department of Children and partners are organizing a similar workshop in Accra from 30th June to 1st July, 2020.
Dr. Afisah Zakariah, the Chief Director for the Ministry on behalf of the Minister, Hon. Cynthia Mamle Morrison, said the Ministry recognizes the roles of the Religious and Traditional leaders and has therefore ensured their inclusion in the development of the ISSOP in handling cases of child abuse which has provided guidelines.
She said it is important to involve all stakeholders in child protection to collectively prevent child abuse. Dr. Afisah Zakariah called on all Traditional and Religious leaders to raise awareness on COVID-19 Virus and urge their members to adhere to the measures put in place by the Government to prevent the spread of the virus.
Adding that Child Abuse is a concerted effort and there is the need to work hard to eliminate them to ensure the development and well-being of children in a safer environment.
The National Director for the Department of Community Development, Mrs. Faustina Essandoh-Yeddu (Ph.D) on behalf of the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama, said COVID-19 can expose children to protection risks like violence against children including domestic violence and online violence, bullying, sexual exploitation, adolescent pregnancies and child marriage.
According to Madam Faustina Essandoh-Yeddu(Ph.D) a broader sensitization of the awareness of the virus alongside promoting Child Protection key messages on the 11 pillars (Child Labour, Verbal Abuse, Child Trafficking, Bullying and so forth) through the Religious and Traditional Leaders will be an effective way to involve the masses cooperation in the implementation of anti COVID-19 measures.
Madam Anne Claire-Dufay, UNICEF Representative in Ghana has called on all to report acts of violence to the police. According to her the informal settling of cases of abuse at home in Ghana is too high especially in cases of sexual abuse (or defilement) as this does not result in the arrest of the perpetrators.
She said if they do not act, criminals will repeat such offences and children will continue to suffer. Madam Anne Claire-Dufay added that there are different ways of disciplining children as role models by not using violence. Adding that there is therefore zero tolerance for violence against children, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.
The Ag. Director for the Department of Children, Mrs. Florence Ayisi Quartey in her presentation stated that the upbringing of children requires a joint partnership of all and therefore Traditional and Religious Leaders have a key role to play especially during this pandemic era.
Adding that there is the need to propagate a message of hope to children and parents need to strengthen their protection rule at this critical moment when they are at home and may be exposed to abuse, inadequate time and care.
Madam Esi Amoaful, Director for Nutrition at the Ghana Health Service spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on children. She said it is much more common for children to lose a parent, family member, or caregiver to COVID-19 and this may have psychological impacts on them and should therefore not be overlooked.
Mr. Roger Lawrence and Mr. Paul Sitsope from GACA Secretariat both presented on the Ghana Against Child Abuse(GACA) Campaign and Introduction to Child Protection Toolkits.
Madam Nicholina Mensah, Principal Research Officer at the Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs also spoke on the roles of the Religious and Traditional Leaders in Child Protection whilst Madam Abena Badu-Aboagye, Principal Programme Officer at the Department of Children presented on the need to understand the rights of children.
The Ghanaian Against Child Abuse (GACA) campaign is a social drive support that seeks the reduction of violence against children and adolescents, including harmful traditional practices. It also aims at promoting the wellbeing of children; Prevent abuse and Protect children and adolescents from harm.
Also Present at the event was Nana Adwoa Awindor, a TV personality who bears the stool name Obaapa Adwoa Nkyaa.
Some numbers to contact in cases of child and sexual and Gender-Based Violence are as follows:
1. COVID Hotline: Emergency – 112 General Information – 311
2. National Cyber Security Centre – 292
3. Ghana Police Service DOVVSU Hotline – 055 100 900
4. MoGCSP Helpline of Hope – 0800 800 800 / 0800 900 900