Laws must be linked to cultural practices say women lawyers in Ghana

The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Ghana) has called for a linkage in cultural practices to the country’s legal framework.

Mrs Chris Dadzie, a FIDA member, said on Tuesday at a Policy Dialogue forum on HIV/AIDS in Tema that cultural practices must be factored into the country’s laws for its effective implementation.

The dialogue, which was organized by FIDA and WOMANKIND-UK, a British NGO in collaboration with the Tema Metropolitan AIDS Committee, was under the theme; “promoting and protecting the rights of women affected and infected by HIV/AIDS.

Mrs Dadzie said even though Ghana was a signatory to most international charters and treaties on human rights, it was difficult to strictly implement them since their implementations had been seen as an abuse of some traditional and cultural practices in the country.

She said a cultural practice such as Female Genital Mutilation and widowhood rites that included having sexual intercourse with the next of kin of a deceased husband violated human rights laws.

She said such practices also exposed the widow and the man to diseases including HIV.

Mrs Dadzie said FIDA would provide free counselling and legal support to women living with HIV/AIDS whenever their rights are trampled upon.

Mr Kwame Brefo-Boateng, Tema Metropolitan HIV/AIDS Focal Person, gave the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of Tema for 2008 as 2.0 percent.

He said 177 people in the metropolis tested positive to the HIV virus in 2008 out of 612 people who went through the Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) at the Tema General Hospital.

Mr Brefo-Boateng said rape, pressure to have children, truancy, broken homes, societal acceptance of extramarital affairs by men were some of the negative socio-economic practices that made women vulnerable to diseases.

He said lack of information and education on sex as well as family planning, refusal to use condom, prostitution, child marriage and female religious bondage such as trokosi were also factors contributing to the vulnerability of women.

On the challenges women with HIV/AIDS face, Mr Brefo-Boateng said such women had a higher risk of contracting reproductive illnesses including vaginal yeast infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and cervical cancer among others.

He added that due to the lower incomes of women compared to that of men, they have less access to HIV care and affordable health care.

Mr Brefo-Boateng said there was the likelihood that they would postpone their treatment due to illness or lack of transportation in addition to being neglected by the husband and family.


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