The domestic violence and victim support unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana police service, formerly known as Women and Juvenile unit (WAJU) was set up in response to increasing number of cases involving abuse in domestic relationships.
Prior to the change, the unit served only women and children, however years after changing the institution’s name from WAJU to DOVVSU an all-embracing name to cater for all domestic violence cases including men, several male victims are still unable to report abuse cases to the unit.
“Our wives beat us too but because of how the society is and how men are regarded, it is difficult for us to report to the police. I am sure the police officers would even laugh at a man if he makes such claims.
“Personally, there is no way I would report such a case because aside from being shy I would be teased by my friends and family” a man who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Mirror.
He said the society sees men as the head of the family and naturally stronger than women so it was difficult for a man to report that he had been beaten or abused by his wife.
Statistics from DOVVSU
In 2013, the unit recorded a total of 2,089 cases of threat from various regions out of the number, only 347 of the cases were reported by male victims and the remaining 1,742 by female victims.
Again 4,687 females victims also reported cases of assault against 170 male victims, and of the 173 cases of indecent assaults reported, only 5 of the victim were men with remaining 168 women.
With the exception of abortion, attempted abortion, abandonment and child trafficking cases which had a higher number of females, most of the cases comparatively had a higher number of males as the suspects.
Some of the offences recorded include abduction, causing damage, unlawful ejection, force marriage, kidnapping, bigamy, child theft and unlawful removal of child. Others were non-maintenance, child abuse, causing harm, unlawful entry, defilement, rape, sodomy and incest.
Advocacy by DOVVSU
In an interview the coordinating Director of DOVVSU National secretariat, Superintendent Laurencia W. A KORLI , said the unit embarked on several advocacy programmes in schools, churches ,mosques, market places and others public places to educate the general public places on the existence of the unit and the need to report abuse cases.
“Our core mandate is to protect the vulnerable in the society and so no matter your gender or age, our doors are opened to you” she noted.
Superintendent Akorli said men could also report any form of abuse to the unit for investigation to be carried out.
“We are not biased against men, we know the difficulties males victims have when they are abused so we try to educate them and encourage them report abuse cases.
“In the past it was difficult for men to be abused by woman, but now it is very common. We have recorded some cases of women abusing men and like we do in cases reported by women, we make sure we investigate and prosecute the suspect” she explained. She said together with the social welfare, the International Federal of Women Lawyer (FIDA) and the legal aid board, the unit works to prevent, protect, apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence and child abuse.
The unit, she said, also provided counseling to victims and collaborated with other pattern to provide psycho social support to victims.
“The police is a friend to the public and so we are not biased to any group, we treat reported cases with maximum professionalism and ensure that victim are well protected against further abuse” she explained.
Legislation on domestic violence
Ghana enacted the Domestic Violence Act 732 in 2007. The Act provides protection to victims of domestic violence, defines domestic, prohibits domestic violence and illustrates the role of the police in protecting domestic violence victims
Credit: Efia Akese/The Mirror