A Guide to Developing a Community Response to Violence against Women in Ghana

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In 1998, when the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre (Gender Centre) undertook a nationwide research on violence against women, (one in 12 critical areas in the Platform of Action), one of the expected outcomes of the research was to identify ways and means of combating the problem. The findings of the research led to the development of a number of activities to address the problem identified, including the absence of support to victims of violence in rural communities.

Since 2000, the Gender Centre has, in collaboration with 6 implementing partners in Ghana developed a rural, community-based response to violence against women. The Rural Response System, (RRS) trained community men and women to provide services, including counselling, to victims of violence in their communities. This has proved effective in changing attitudes to women’s role and status as well as reducing the incidence of violence within the community, not just domestic violence as was first envisaged, but even intra-familial violence generally (for example, between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law or parents and children). What has been key in this strategy is the use of both men and women in the intervention as well as ensuring the support of traditional and religious leaders. State Agencies such as Police and Health service, the Department of Social Welfare and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice have also been trained in order to ensure a holistic range of services for women experiencing violence.

This guide has been written by the Gender Centre based in Accra. This document is the culmination of a great deal of work, adaptation and learning along the way by the target communities, implementing partners and the Gender Centre itself over the years which we feel is important to share and disseminate both to practitioners in Ghana and beyond.

The purpose, then, of this Guide is to encourage civil society organisations to establish similar interventions within their own communities in efforts to mainstream women’s rights and gender equality throughout their work. The Guide takes readers through the whole process of community entry, baseline surveys, setting up and developing the RRS as well as training the Community Based Action Teams (COMBATs).