Partners call for free medical care for survivors of abuse

10 September 2020

Plan International Ghana in collaboration with its Alumni Network and Coalition for Survivors of Domestic Violence, is advocating for free medical examinations for survivors of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault.

Partners came together virtually to discuss the challenges facing survivors and to call for change.

Other partners supporting the move include the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, the Department of Children, and Ghanaian Actress Ama K. Abebrese.  

Mr Samson Lardy Anyenini, a Legal Practitioner, explained the position of the law on the subject and said all rape and sexual assault survivors were entitled to free medical treatment and it was the responsibility of the State to pay the fees. He said there was a need for an enforcement of the law.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Afia Tenge, the Accra Regional Police Public Relations Officer, said if a statute was made and there were no measures to ensure survivors got support, then it would become a bigger challenge. The police, she said, was not blaming health workers for executing their duties and called on all stakeholders to join forces to find ways of supporting survivors of these crimes.

Survivors must get justice

Dr. Akoto Ampaw, the Director of Eastern Regional Hospital, said it was important for everyone to understand that medical examination fees must be paid whether by the government or individuals. “I must agree that it should not prevent the survivor from getting justice in any form at all and the earlier we begin to look at how we pay for this service, the better,”he added.

Chief Superintendent Owusuaa Kyeremeh, the Director of DOVVSU, said medical examination fees were a huge hindrance in the pursuit of justice. She said medical treatment for victims must be free, adding that, the court of law had provisions or compensation for witnesses who were summoned in court.

Madam Abena Aprekua Badu-Aboagye, a Principal Programmes Officer, addressing the issue from the perspective of the Department of Children, under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, noted that there was a guideline that was used in addressing abuse cases which states that medical examination fees were supposed to be borne by the state. She, however, explained that the guideline ought to be made clear on who or which Ministry or government institution was responsible for payment of such charges.

Call for change

Ms. Ama K. Abeberese, who has been advocating for the abolishment of medical examination fees for all rape and sexual assault survivors said her online petition had generated over 15,000 signatories.

She said she met with the first lady of the Republic and the Minister for Gender, Children, and Social Protection on the issue, and she was working towards submitting an official petition and other documents to the government soon for consideration.

 Mr. Solomon TesfaMariam, the Country Director of Plan International Ghana, said the doors of his organisation were always open for any further engagement and support to ensure that all rape and sexual assault survivors were not denied justice.

Protection from violence, Gender-based violence