The National Secretariat of the Domestic Violence and Victims’ Support Unit (DOVSU) has identified religious abuse as a fast growing trend in most Ghanaian churches.
At a day’s workshop on Gender-based violence for media practitioners on the theme; “Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Gender-Based Violence” in Accra, administrator at the National Secretariat of DOVVSU, ASP Lydia Osei Agyemang noted that some churches and prayer camps in the country perpetuated sexual and physical abuse against congregants especially women and children under the guise of religious healing and deliverance.
According to her, some spiritual leaders harassed, humiliated and inflicted physical pain on congregants under the pretext of exorcising them. She said the practice had existed for several years however had been on the increase in recent times with most of them being broadcasted on TV.
“It is becoming rampant; from morning to evening you see them on TV trying to cast out demons. They hit them on the head, pour oil into their noses and mouths, hit their chests and so on. All these constitute human right violations,” ASP Osei Agyemang said.
She chastised the media for broadcasting such activities, adding that stakeholders must to develop strategies to address the menace since most of the victims of such abused seemed ignorant and voluntarily accepted such treatment.
She however noted that the Domestic Violence and Victim’s and Support Unit had stepped up awareness creation on domestic violence and public education on the subject.
Executive Director of Women, Media and Change (WOMEC), organizers of the workshop, Mrs. Charity Binka revealed that a total of 17,708 cases on non-maintenance were reported at DOVVSU between 2011 and 2013. Total defilement cases between 2010 and 2013 stood at 4,488. Assault had a high record of 5382 in 2011, which reduced to 746 in 2012 and went up to 2795 in 2013.
Mrs. Binka called on the media to recognize violence as a human right issue, and attach importance to it, by exposing the perpetrators., adding that there was the need for Ghanaians to commit themselves to the fight against all forms on abuse in society.