The US Embassy in collaboration with Mobile Web Ghana organised a two-day training session for Civil Society Organizations and gender activists. The event was held at Mobile Web Ghana, from the 12th -13th of March, 2019. The workshop was aimed at equipping participants with the requisite skills and knowledge to combat domestic and sexual violence. The two-day workshop was dubbed “Train the trainer- engaging with young women about sexual and domestic violence.
The first day of the training, initially focused on a discussion on self-confidence and self-esteem. The discussion was led by Mr. Samuel Kyei-Berko, the deputy program manager of Ark Foundation. He first took participants through a session that sought to help participants identify reasons why women are more affected by domestic and sexual violence. He pointed out the need for women/girls to have confidence in themselves. In addition, he pointed out the need for gender activists to help build the confidence and self-esteem of victims of domestic and sexual violence. Usually, their past experiences affect their view of themselves and their self-confidence this is why Mr. Kyei-Berko stressed the need for activists to encourage victims of sexual and domestic violence.
After the discussion, a breakout session was organized, where participants were made to develop workable strategies to help vulnerable females build their self- confidence and esteem. Afterwards, they were made to present their strategies. The various groups highlighted the strategies they would use to identify girls who have been victims of sexual and domestic violence. They also mentioned ways they would help such victims overcome their inferiority complex.
The next discussion was facilitated by two senior female police officers, Commissioner Patience Quaye and Superintendent Sophia Enim. They led an in-depth session on Ghanaian traditions, laws and how their work as polices officers is crucial to the fight against sexual violence. Commissioner Patience Quaye, explained how some Ghanaian traditions have encouraged acts of sexual violence like FGM, child marriage, “trokosi”, amongst others. She added that, some of these traditions which have existed over the years, still exist because the perpetrators deem them acceptable and appropriate. She explained that as a result, it was sometimes difficult for the police to effectively help curb sexual violence because some victims do not consider it as a crime because of the traditions of their community. She again added that, incidences of sexual and domestic violence are pervasive today because of gender roles which have been defined by society. As a result, it is the norm for the woman to be described as vulnerable, marginalised or a sex object because of the position society has placed her.
Superintendent Sofia Enim gave detailed explanations about the laws of Ghana that address sexual and domestic violence cases. She also made participants understand some terms as defined by the laws of Ghana. For example who can be prosecuted, convicted and the ages at which a perpetrator is culpable of being sentenced for a crime and the years of sentence.
Participants were given the opportunity for a Q&A, after their discussion.
The last session for Day One was facilitated by a student-entrepreneur who was once a victim of sexual violence. As a rape survivor, she led participants to tackle a case study about a young girl who was defiled. Afterwards, participants were made to develop ways in solving the case study. It was an interesting session which came to an end with the groups had sharing their findings in a series of presentations.
Day Two of the training was also an exciting and educative one. The first session was facilitated by Florence Toffa, the CEO of Mobile Web Ghana. Her topic focused on mentoring and the value of mentors to female success. She mentioned that it was important for everyone to have a mentor and a role model. She further explained that when young girls/women have mentors, it goes a long way in helping them live a worthwhile life. She also added that, for female survivors of domestic or sexual violence, it was very critical they had mentors who will encourage them and give them support either physically or emotionally. This, she said, would create a safe space for such victims, to feel loved. Again, Florence highlighted that, gender activists and CSOs should also serve as mentors to these vulnerable ones. Whether they are also survivors or not, according to her, serving as mentors to victims of sexual abuse will go a long way to influence their perceptions and attitudes.
Participants were divided into groups again for a breakout session to discuss strategies for working with vulnerable young women/girls about sexual/domestic violence and sexual harassment.
The next was a Q&A discussion on the theme “Tyranny of niceness”. This session was led by Rita Awuku and Maria Michelle Brown, all of the US embassy. They highlighted how some people may act nice and yet have an ulterior motive. They stated that, the niceness of some perpetrators of sexual violence is what made it possible for them to carry out their evil intentions. They also touched on consent. This led to heated debate amongst participants as they aired their opinions about what consent is and what it was not.
During the final session of the 2-day workshop participants presented their strategies they developed earlier during the breakout session. There were discussions on their presentations as well. The workshop finally came to an end after each participant was received a certificate of participation.