The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) is demanding justice for the late Lilian Dedjoe, who was allegedly battered to death by her husband Charles Dedjoe.
In a statement signed by FIDA-Ghana President Mrs Afua Addotey, the women lawyers said the news of Mrs Dedjoe’s death, “once again, raises questions regarding the effective protection of women and girls from intimate partner violence and domestic violence”.
“FIDA-Ghana noted and commended the swift response of the police in arresting the suspect” – her husband, who is a businessman.
The women lawyers said continuing reports of intimate partner violence signal that advocacy strategies against domestic violence and intimate partner violence by women’s rights defenders “need to be deepened, to stimulate actions by state actors to bring perpetrators of intimate violence to account”.
The lawyers said intimate partner violence has “cut short the lives of many women in Ghana” and “has negatively impacted the health of victims, devastated homes, and the wellbeing of dependents of victims of intimate partner violence”.
Domestic violence and intimate partner violence, the group said, “are pervasive human rights concerns that have engaged the attention of women’s rights defenders in Ghana for over two decades”.
The group noted that a study by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) with support from DFID on the economic cost of violence against women in Ghana, (2014-2019) found that households in Ghana lost $286 million annually in income due to violence against women in 2018.
The female lawyers said this calls for “increased political will to improve protection measures for survivors of intimate partner violence”, adding: “The feeling of being trapped in abusive relationships because of poor community support systems, weak enforcement of laws, lack of shelters, and the continual denial of women’s agency, demands an urgency to remove these serious obstacles to accessing justice”.
FIDA-Ghana said strong support mechanisms, such as psycho-social support, and a “robust social protection system that empowers women to rebuild their lives, demonstrates state commitment to transform gender inequalities that fuels intimate partner violence”.
Aside from the legal services, FIDA-Ghana noted that “women need financial stability to live independently”.
“Their children need to grow in a healthy and peaceful environment where they do not have to be socialised negatively to believe that women must be beaten to demonstrate male dominance and misogyny.
“The gaps in our legal and social protection systems allows such impunity to continue, and at the same time leaves a legacy of catastrophic consequences for a younger generation to perpetuate violence”, it said.
“In so doing, we create a society that disrespects the sanctity of life and the basic human right to life and dignity which is enshrined in our constitution, as well as the universal declaration of human rights and other human rights treaties that Ghana has ratified”, the group added.
FIDA-Ghana said it is joining its voice with other women’s rights organisations in calling for justice for Lillian Dedjoe.
“We also call on the criminal investigations department and the divisional police handling the case to exhaust all possible means to carry out thorough investigations to ensure that justice is done.
“FIDA appeals to the President to strengthen the country’s social protection system to benefit survivors and victims of intimate partner violence to enable them to attain an appreciable level of financial independence.
“It is critical for survivors of domestic violence and intimate partner violence to find a place that can provide them with shelter. This is a pressing need which is long overdue, and we call upon the new Gender minister, Hon Adwoa Saro to explore the possibility of making this a reality”, the group appealed.
FIDA-Ghana said it “believes that the criminal investigations department will ensure that justice is not denied to Lillian and trusts that a detailed and prompt investigation will be carried out to establish the truth behind her demise and deepen trust in the justice system”.