GhanaHealthLegalNews

WABA boss to government: Implement law on free health care for victims of domestic violence

The president of the Women’s Assistance and Business Association (WABA), Gloria Ofori-Boadu, wants the government to pay for the medical bills of victims of domestic violence

The president of the Women’s Assistance and Business Association (WABA), Gloria Ofori-Boadu, has urged government to implement provisions on the statute books which require the medical bills of victims of domestic violence to be paid by the state.

Ofori-Boadu made the call in a presentation at the second edition of the Law and Ethics Web Series, organised by the African Centre on Law and Ethics (ACLE), and the African Centre of International Criminal Justice (ACICJ) at the GIMPA Faculty of Law.

According to Section 8 of the Domestic Violence Act 2007 (Act 732), entitled “Receipt of Complaint by Police and Free Medical Treatment”, victims of domestic violence in Ghana are entitled to free medical care. However, 13 years after it was passed into law, the provision is yet to be implemented.

Provisions of the law

The law provides as follows:

“8. (1) When a police officer receives a complaint under Section 6(6), the officer shall, (a) interview the parties and witnesses to the domestic violence including children, (b) record the complaint in detail and provide the victim with an extract of the occurrence upon request in a language the victim understands, (c) assist the victim to obtain medical treatment where necessary, (d) assist the victim to a place of safety as the circumstances of the case or as the victim requires where the victim expresses concern about safety, (e) protect the victim to enable the victim retrieve personal belongings where applicable, (f) assist and advise the victim to preserve evidence, and (g) inform the victim of his or her rights and any services which may be available.

“(2) Police assistance to a victim under subsection (1) (c) consists of issuing a medical form to the victim and where necessary sending the victim to a medical facility.

“(3) A victim of domestic violence who is assisted by the police to obtain medical treatment under subsection (1) (c) is entitled to free medical treatment from the State.

“(4) In case of emergency or a life-threatening situation a victim of domestic violence may receive free medical treatment pending a complaint to the police and the issuance of a report.”

Assisting victims of domestic violence

Ofori-Boadu, who doubles as a law lecturer, said: “Section 8, subsection 3 provides that a victim of domestic violence who is assisted by the police to obtain medical treatment under the act is entitled to free medical care from the state.

“This discussion came up when there was a meeting at the World Bank for stakeholders of gender-based violence.

“Since the law provides for that, it is inherent that the Health Ministry and DOVVSU [the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service] work together, because free medical treatment from the state is important. And the Ministry of Finance must also look at having a budget for that aspect,” she said.

Education on domestic biolence

Touching on the need to educate the public about domestic violence, the WABA president noted that the process should begin with Ghanaian children in their formative years.

“It should start at kindergarten so that when the child is being formed the child will be told that, ‘Take good care of yourself, or let your parents protect you, or if anybody comes to your home that you trust and the person starts acting in a different way, talk to your parents, talk to your teacher.’

“If it is a parent who is being funny, confide in someone, your teacher or your Sunday school teacher, or your brother, or your aunt.

“Sensitisation about violence should start very early,” the private legal practitioner said.

Law and Ethics Web Series

The Law and Ethics Web Series began on Wednesday 21 October 2020 with an in-person session at the GIMPA Executive Conference Centre and on the online meeting platform Zoom.

There are other presentations scheduled between 4 November and 23 December 2020. To join in, use the Webinar ID 848-2795-0621 with the pass code: acle123.

The series is being co-ordinated by Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Budu, a law lecturer and head of law centres at the GIMPA Faculty of Law.

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