The Criminal and Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service has inaugurated the first interview room for people at the Kasoa Police Station to provide privacy to survivors of domestic violence, while they tell their stories.
The interview room was fixed with support from UNICEF and Global Affairs Canada.
Mr David Eklu, the Central East Regional Police Commander, commissioning the room said it would give protection and dignity to victims, who survived domestic abuses.
“Policing is not only about protecting adults, but children are critical in performing our duties. when they suffer abuse, they need a place, where they can have peace of mind to settle down for our officers to attend to them,” he said.
Chief Superintendent of Police Cecilia Arko, Deputy Director, DOVVSU at CID Headquarters said the Unit existed to safeguard the dignity and human rights of children, adults at risk in Ghana through the prevention of domestic violence.
She said they also engaged the public in sensitisation programmes, investigation, arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of abuse within the domestic system.
She said DOVVSU had established an effective database for crime, detection, prevention, and prosecution, adding that the Unit referred survivors, who required medical attention and specialized health to the health facilities, clinical psychologists, social workers, and counsellors.
Chief Supt. Arko said, over the years, the Unit had investigated and prosecuted cases of abuse, adding that it had also taken part in awareness creation on human rights.
She said statistics from the DOVVSU unit indicated that most of the Unit had women and children reporting their cases and explained that Children, who reported to the Unit either as contact or in conflicts with the law, needed to be handled with extreme care.
“Information Children provide needs to be obtained with caution,” she said.
“Section 3 and 33 of the Juvenile Justice Act 653/203 and the Children’s Act 560/1998, stipulates that law enforcement agencies are to obtain credible information from Children,” she added.
Chie Supt. Arko said there was a need for DOVVSU to dedicate a safe and convenient place for Children to open during their narrations.
She thanked UNICEF and Global Affairs Canada, for their support.
Madam Lucia Soleti, UNICEF Chief, Child Protection said in Ghana 34 per cent of women and girls aged 15 to 49 years, who had ever been in a relationship experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimated partner while 94 per cent of children experienced violent discipline.
“Available data shows that less than 40 per cent of the women who experience violence seek help of any sort. Among those who do, most seek help from family and friends and only less than 10 per cent of those women seek help from the police,” she said.
She said since the outbreak of COVID-19, reports of violence against women, and particularly domestic violence, had increased in several countries as security, health, and financial strains created tensions among relationships.
Madam Soleti said the Police were the first point of contact for reporting any abuse but reporting and testifying about sexual and gender-based violence to the Police and subsequently in court could be daunting for Children and women.
“Many survivors stop following up on their cases due to going through many processes at Police stations or the court during investigations and prosecution. They either decide to stop following up the cases at the police station level or the court level,” she said.
Madam Soleti explained that improving the environment in which victims testify would help to improve the reporting and facilitate access to justice. “We must create conditions to support all children to realize this right without being additionally traumatized,” she added.
The UNICEF Chief said the choice of Kasoa was strategic because it served a large constituency and received a lot of cases of survivors.