B&P Associates, Lawyers and Consultants (B&P Associates) in collaboration with students from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, USA, has partnered with Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) Ghana, as part of the International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrations to intensify education on domestic violence in the Okushiebiade community in the Ga West Municipality of the Greater Accra Region.
The programme with the universal IWD theme: ‘DigitAll: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality’, #EmbraceEquity seeks to call on domestic violence victims to be outspoken and report perpetrators immediately as they are protected by the Domestic Violence Act 2007 (Act 732).
A 2020 statistical analysis from the Accra Regional office of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service stated that 31.9percent of women in Ghana suffer at least one form of domestic violence whether physical, economic, social or psychological.
In a presentation to the community, a Ghanaian lawyer with expertise in matters including family law and litigation, David William Akuoko-Nyantakyi highlighted the forms of abuse that causes harm and panic to a victim and added that, the prime objective of Act 732 is to shield and protect the dignity of a victim.
“Beyond physical abuse there are other forms of domestic violence recognised by law sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse and generally any conduct that is criminal in nature and amounts to causing harm or threatening harm to another.”
Mr. Akuoko-Nyantakyi also added that should a court face a challenge where an abuse of a victim is not able to be predicated especially when it doesn’t fall under any of the categories of abuse, there are some factors the court shifts their attention to, in order to determine whether it’s a domestic abuse or not which includes the time spent together, where the time is mostly spent, the manner in which the time is being spent, as well as the extent of the relationship.
“Where the relationship does not fall within any of the classes specifically provided for by Section 2, the court has the power to determine whether the relationship is a domestic relationship, taking into account factors such as, the amount of time the persons spend together, the place where that time is ordinarily spent, the manner in which that time is spent; and the duration of the relationship.”
Also, at the meeting, Bessy Agyeiwaa Crentsil, a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court and a lawyer with B&P Associates elaborated the fact that a victim can never be the cause of domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is a crime and it doesn’t matter what you did for the person to abuse you. You can never be the reason why someone actually abuses you. Sometimes when someone comes to you to report a perpetrator, the first question you may ask the person is what did you do but that is not the right approach towards a victim. There are so many other peaceful ways of resolving issues,” she added.
In an interview with B&FT, the Founder and Managing Partner of B&P Associates, Adelaide Benneh Prempeh stated that: “Today’s event was to sensitize the members of our community on the impact of domestic violence on the individual and the community at large and also, the launch of the pro bono week of B&P Associates.
“This programme was organised to educate members of our community about domestic violence. We find as a law firm that, domestic violence comes up quite a bit as an element in the work we do and it is unfortunate but prevalent in our society. We therefore decided to create pro bono opportunities by providing legal representation and legal literacy to our community.
We also find that when people are well versed and empowered by the law, they are more likely to seek redress when offences are committed against them. And consequently, more likely to progress in life with the confidence and peace of mind to thrive in society,” she added.
Mrs. Benneh Prempeh indicated that, “We chose domestic violence because it is an issue that affects everybody. If you don’t go through domestic violence experience personally, you might know a relative or indeed a work colleague who is going through it. We aim to make this a yearly event and in the interim take opportunities to provide legal literacy and education within the community in which we operate.”
She urged victims of domestic violence to speak up in order to receive support and to assist in the prosecution of perpetrators. “It’s very important that victims of domestic violence realize that they are not at fault; they haven’t done anything to deserve the violence meted out against them. It’s rather the perpetrators who are at fault, regardless of the circumstances. Victims should speak up. There is support at hand.”
Mr. Di’Vennci Lucas and Miss. Virginia Richards, speaking on behalf of their fellow colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School stated: “It is a truly valuable experience for us to be able to take part in this experience. Its is interesting to note similar patterns and forms, as regards the challenge of domestic abuse here and in our communities back in the United States. This underscores the fact that domestic abuse is a universal problem, and we all need to work to eradicate it.
B&P Associates is a primarily Corporate and Commercial legal practice and consultancy located at the heart of Accra. The Firm has won a number of awards and has been top ranked by international organizations such as Chambers & Partners, and Legal 500, with an excellent reputation amongst its peers.
The team is highly regarded for its cross-border legal expertise, responsiveness and commitment. B&P Associates provide business oriented legal advice across a range of sectors, to both local and international clients. Their practice areas beyond the corporate and commercial, include divorce and matrimonial finance, child custody and maintenance, injunctions and all aspects of international children and family law proceedings. Pro bono work is an integral part of the firm’s culture and their mission is to widen access to justice and to promote education on the law and its usefulness.
Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF Ghana) established in 1993, is a Pan- African, nongovernmental, not-for–profit, women’s right network that envisions the promoting, protecting, respect and the realization of women’s rights in Ghana. WiLDAF Ghana’s mission is to empower women by promoting their rights and increasing their participation and influence at the local, national and international levels through initiating, promoting and strengthening strategies that link law and development
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