What happened after COVID-19 hit: Ghana

Munya Mandipaza: “They wanted her safe at home with them, away from her physically and emotionally abusive husband.”

Date: Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, globally, 243 million women and girls were abused by their intimate partners in the past year. Since the pandemic, with lockdown measures, countries around the world have seen an alarming rise in reporting on violence against women, especially domestic violence. As COVID-19 continues to strain health services and compromise our economies and essential services, UN Women is working with women on the front lines who are responding to the pandemic of violence against women and girls every day. “What Happened after COVID-19 Hit” brings you some of their stories, and how our programmes are backing solutions that leave no one behind.

Participants at a meeting for women religious leaders from INERELA+ discuss ending violence against women and girls. Photo: INERELA+
Participants at a meeting for women religious leaders from INERELA+ discuss ending violence against women and girls. Photo: INERELA+
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When Chrystal Aye* went home to give birth to her second child, her parents insisted on her staying longer term. They wanted her safe at home with them, away from her physically and emotionally abusive husband in Accra.

The National Coordinator of the International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS (INERELA+) in Ghana, Mercy Acquah-Hayford, who was aware of Aye’ s plight and her deteriorating health, persuaded her to return to Accra. INERELA+ Ghana secured a safe place for Aye and her children to live in Accra and helped her start antiretroviral therapy. This was made possible with support from the UN Trust Fund, as there are no available shelters for cases like this.

Since March 2020, INERELA+ Ghana has played a key role in sensitizing [the] public on the increased risks of gender-based violence and how to address cases safely, ethically and effectively. I am proud of the project’s impact, especially in the lives of survivors such as Aye.

While the investigation is pending, Aye has said, ‘Enough is enough… I want this case in court.’”


UN Women responds through programmes on the ground

There has been an alarming rise in violence against women and girls in Ghana since the COVID-19 pandemic started, as a result of lockdowns, social isolation measures and school closures. INERELA+ Ghana is handling cases involving multiple forms of violence, including child abuse and exploitation, sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, emotional and economic abuse, femicide and assault by law enforcement agents.

Munya Mandipaza is the Deputy Director of Programmes at the INERELA+ Secretariat in South Africa. The support provided to Chrystal Aye is part of a project run by INERELA+ South Africa called, “Strengthening the capacity of religious leaders to end violence against women and girls in South Africa, Burundi and Ghana,” which is funded by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) under the Spotlight Initiative

This year, the project has broadcast messages about gender-based violence (on community radio stations in three local languages) in the intervention countries to an estimated 2,000 listeners. It has also shared information on how to report, and seek help for, incidents of violence with over 5,000 women and girls.

*Name changed to protect the privacy of the individual.