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Combatting The Global Issue of Gender-Based Violence

Deemed the “shadow pandemic” by the United Nations, domestic violence cases spiked during COVID-19 in various countries. The problem has remained elevated in regions around the world. During an online seminar hosted by The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, panelists had a cross-regional conversation about gender-based violence, the pandemic, and its aftermath. Their goal, said the foundation's Nyeleti Honwana, is to “understand the causes, manifestation and control of violence...” One of the significant issues, said criminologist Diana Peel of Makerere University in Ghana, is that the justice system is a male-dominated organization that makes the legal system challenging for victims. She also cited a lack of funding for facilities to train and sensitize enforcement officers in gender-based violence. The first stop in the community is usually the LC, the local councilor, and they tend to be male, and they tend to be the holders of tradition,” Peel said. “The people who are most likely to value the cultural norms that support male privilege.”

Peel believes the systematic inequality of women should be addressed to help decrease rates of gender-based violence. Women overall lack the same economic access that men have. There are fewer women who own land, and many women lack equal rights in marriage, divorce, or inheritance. Anther step recommended by Charlotte Ofori of the Regional Institute for Population Studies at the University of Ghana, is to advocate for leaders at the local level. Local leaders act as a link connecting victims and the state. “If local champions are not working, the information is not going to get to the state because remember that for the most part, women who experience violence may not be empowered enough to go right to the police station to report these cases or to go to the domestic violence and Victim Support Unit,” Ofori said. “Those people must be in power to be champions at the local level.”

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