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UNFPA supports DOVVSU to activate Domestic Violence Hotline

UNFPA has supported the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service to provide a dedicated hotline to respond to issues of abuse during the COVID_19 and the partial lockdown in Ghana.

All around the world, many countries and cities are going on partial or complete lockdown as a way of curbing the rapid spread of coronavirus infections among the local communities. The implication of this is that many people are at home all day, every day, with their families and other members of their households. On the surface, this situation brings a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend time with loved ones and still get work done at the same time. Ideally, this should be the case for all households but sadly, it is not.

Across socio-economic, religious and cultural settings, domestic violence has been a major source of violence against women and girls. In Ghana, averagely 35% of women have experienced some form of physical, emotional, psychological or sexual violence in the form of intimate partner violence. This number is most likely much higher in reality because most cases of abuse either go unidentified or unreported by victims due to social and cultural factors that value ‘keeping up appearances’. We see then, in countries that have been on lockdown much longer than Ghana, significant rise in the number of reported cases of domestic violence, mostly against women. To many victims, work spaces and schools, served as a haven from abuse; safe spaces which have now been removed due to circumstances beyond their control.

As preemptive measure, the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service has activated a domestic violence hotline to remove the communication barrier that keeps victims and observers from reporting cases of domestic violence. UNFPA, as the UN agency mandated to provide support to government agencies in the fight against gender-based violence, has provided support to DOVVSU to activate and promote this hotline all around the country. Leveraging on partnerships and networks, UNFPA has through e-posters and fliers disseminated the hotline on several media platforms to create awareness on the hotline and encourage its patronage as part of efforts to stop domestic violence.

To further highlight the message to stop domestic violence in all its forms, especially in these uniquely difficult times of COVID-19, UNFPA’s Honorary Ambassador Claudia Lumor is working with influencers to disseminate key messages to the general public on issues of sexual and gender based-violence (SGBV) and family planning.  She started this campaign by posting on her Instagram feed, Claudia Lumor says: “Self-quarantining is necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, don’t ‘quarantine’ any form of abuse you are going through.”

UNFPA and the entire UN system is calling on the general public of the Ghanaian community to not hesitate in reporting cases of domestic violence to DOVVSU at the hotline: 055-1000-900. Let us together protect women and girls who are locked down with their abusers. Lock down, don’t shut up. Save a life.