However, women have been disproportionate primary recipients of the gut-wrenching effects of the virus ranging from economic, social, to psychological repercussions. The most disturbing of all is Gender-Based Violence peeking in these times. Undeniably, several policies have long existed before now to mitigate this challenge. However, these have over the years seen an abysmal performance; and as usual, issues of women are merely resolved by words of mouth and sword-less policies. Various advocacy groups have given off their best efforts to push this; however, without much support, they only end up doing charity. We anticipated that, at least, the gendered impacts of COVID-19 would shape the decisions that mainly male leaders are making in these hard times. But sadly, this has least been fulfilled.
The South African government has declared violence against women a national crisis. In Ghana, it is a pathetic situation, yet it has not been given the needed credence to be considered a crisis. As patriarchal as the system is, victims are blamed for their predicament, subjecting them to secondary victimisation. We have the Domestic Violence and Victim’s Support Unit that seeks to address these issues. But then what concrete achievement has been made? Even when there are policies in place, there are a lot of foot-dragging when it comes to implementation. Bureaucracy and red-tapeism have taken over our justice system with most feminine struggles still pending resolution. The media has been instrumental in capturing the attention of key stakeholders through broadcasting some of the severe cases of some paedophile cases and other lethal cases like murder by a partner, rape and assault, yet nothing has changed. Justice takes forever to be served. As already known, ‘justice delayed is justice denied’.
The one pressing aspect of this pickle yet ignored is the provision of alternative shelter for victims. Unfortunately, after reporting abuse, most victims are left with no option than to join their abusers back home, if an arrest is not issued instantly. This mostly ends in a fatality. As such, people who refuse to report abuse have reasonable justification though not the best.
COVID-19 has even made the challenge more turbulent. The very conditions that are needed to battle the disease—isolation, social distancing, restrictions on freedom of movement—are, perversely, the very conditions that feed into the hands of abusers who now find state- sanctioned circumstances tailor-made for unleashing abuse on women. The consequence is what we are witnessing currently- severe economic and social decadence on society and victims as well. Moving forward, COVID-19 recovery programmes in Ghana should capture this gender-based need. Provision of shelter for victims of gender-based violence is very crucial in the dispensation of justice for the abused.
By: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Ghana Communication Manager, Diaspora