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Seventeen years after setting up DV Fund, survivors still struggle to pay for medical bills


Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) are still struggling to pay for medical bills despite the setting up of the Domestic Violence Support Fund. The Fund was set up in 2007 after the country passed its domestic violence law Act, act 732, 2007.  

The Fund was supposed to take care of defilement and rape survivors medical bills as well as establishment of safe shelters for domestic abuse survivors.

The fund is expected to help protect girls and the vulnerable against all forms of gender-based violence in society and also guarantee them justice if they suffer any form of abuse in their communities.

Seventeen years after the fund was set-up, the financial burden of medical examinations is still on the survivors because the government failed to put money into the fund. In 2017, a private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu sued the government for failing to provide money into the fund.

An Accra high court in April 2017 ruled in favor of lawyer Martin Kpebu and ordered the government to allocate money into the fund. In 2022, the government provided GH₵1.5million seed money in line with the implementation of Domestic Violence Act, 732 after Lawyer Martin Kpebu threatened to go back to court to compel the government to act.

Under the act establishing the fund, a committee was also constituted to ensure implementation of the fund. However, the committee has also become ineffective because the seed money is not enough for the sixteen regions and the seed money has not been utilized despite demands from survivors.

Stakeholders’ effort

In December 2023, Northern Region child protection committee comprising department of children, CHRAJ and civil society organizations took a decision to what they called open a one stop-shop domestic violence case at Tamale Teaching Hospital in the first quarter of 2024 to ensure comprehensive care for survivors of SGBV and domestic violence.

A member of the committee, Mr Iddrisu Inusah told this reporter that, a container was provided by one of the stakeholders, World Vision International and work started at TTH but stalled due to lack of funds.

 The one-stop-shop office when completed will have a social welfare officer, police officer and Doctor on-call to issue medical reports without fee. This facility he explained further would have been a more convenient place for survivors.

Mother of a 14-year-old girl who was defiled in 2023 who wants to remain anonymous tells Zaa News the family spent over GH₵1,000 for medical reports and medications.

The state, she acknowledged did well by prosecuting and jailing the perpetrator but was of the view that if the domestic violence support fund was working it would have helped survivors’ families such as herself.

Yendi Circuit Court, presided over by His Honor Anthony Aduku-Aidoo sentenced 45-year-old barber, Tahidu Abdul Razak, who defiled a 14-year-old girl, to eight years in prison. The accused was sentenced on his own plea of guilt.

The survivors said though the perpetrator was punished by the law, her child’s feature progress was affected. ‘She stopped going to school during the incident period and could not also go to the tailoring shop to learn dressmaking after school’, the mother stated.

The convict house according to Madam Hamdia not her really name was closer to the survivor tailor shop making it impossible for her to continue.  She believes if the DV fund was working, it would have helped her 14-years defiled daughter medications and also provide temporary safe.

Northern Region Commission on Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Investigator and Principal Public Relations Officer, Mr Iddrisu Inusah stated that, the DV fund’s functioning was critical in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence.

Section 30 of the DV act, Mr Inusah explained, spells out the objective of the fund which include how it should be applied in providing basic materials support of survivors and also trained families of survivors because sometimes families got traumatized and need to go through psychosocial support.

Another major objective he added was any other matter conducted with rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of DV survivors and in rescuing survivors, there was the need for a safe shelter ready which should be provided by the state.

On the funding of the fund, Mr Inusah said the current source of funding where monies approved by parliament and any other monies from any other source approved by the minister responsible for the fund. This, he observed would continue to be a challenge to adequately resource the fund.

Alternative funding

Commenting on adequate funding source, he suggested that, the state can surcharge perpetrators of domestic violence should pay a certain amount of money into the fund. This, Mr Inusah noted can help the state to raise enough money for the fund and it can also serve as a deterrent to engaging in domestic violence.

 Domestic violence is any act that has the tendencies to cause threat to harm or tendencies to cause physical abuse, emotional, economic, psychological and sexual abuse.  

According to her, the survivor had to change different shop because the perpetrator house was closer to where she was learning dress making and it was high impossible to allow her to continue and we have to look for money.

Youth Empowerment Manager at Norsaac, Rumana Jibirila said an hour was very precious to a survivor and any delay from the mandated state institutions can lead to severe consequences.

We have come to realized is that most of the mandated state institutions are not well equipe or resource to be able to carry out their duties and responsibilities effectively’ Rumana said.

She recountsinstances where Norsaac has to come in to even provide vehicle and fuel to transport mandated institutions to the communities to rescue girls, adding there were instances also where Norsaac has to take step further to even provide accommodation by engaging hotels and guest houses to provide safe shelter for the survivors.

 ‘a I’m aware of some commitment to the DV Act but there are no clear guidelines as how survivors can access the fund’ she acknowledged.Is sad to say that as a country have not really implemented the DV Fund, our implementation has been very poor.

Survivors still paying from their pocket for medical reports or likeminded institutions or women rights organizations still coming into the picture to provide funds to survivors.  

The DV fund she noted, was essential to provide resources to institution like social welfare and DOVVSU. She recommended to the government to tale deliberate effort to diversified DV funding source because the main source of funding from the central government through the consolidated fund remains one of the major challenges over the years.  

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