Cases of Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in the Volta Region have risen to alarming heights in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
A total of 932 of such cases were recorded in the region in 2020 as against 512 in 2019.
This represents an increase of more than 82 per cent over the period.
The Volta Regional Coordinator of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU), Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Faustina Awumey, disclosed these at a sensitisation forum on SGBV at Kpeve in the South Dayi District of the Volta Region last Wednesday.
She described the trend as very disturbing, saying that the SGBV cases showed no sign of an imminent decline.
ASP Awumey said that the cases recorded were mainly rape, defilement, assault, forced marriages, non-maintenance of children, incest and other forms of child abuse, among others.
The regional DOVVSU coordinator said cases of ‘sextortion’ which involved the use of the internet by sex predators to lure young people and some adults into virtual amorous relationships and demanding their nude photographs was also on the increase.
“These predators then used the nude photographs to blackmail their victims with persistent demands for money,” she revealed.
ASP Awumey blamed the SGBV situation in the region largely on job losses, reduced incomes, marriage break-ups, stress and anxiety in homes as a result of the pandemic, for which reason some people were taking the heat out on others.
According to her, some underage girls were also breaking lose and taking to the streets to offer sex to elderly men for money.
ASP Awumey said that investigations into such cases were often frustrated by some chiefs, assemblymen and pastors, who intervened in the cases to settle them at home, thereby denying the victims justice.
The regional DOVVSU coordinator warned that chiefs and other individuals who thwarted police investigations into such cases would suffer swift and ruthless consequences.
“SBGV cases are felonies which cannot be settled at home,” she explained.
ASP Awumey entreated parents to monitor their children around the clock and watch out for changes in their behaviour and also inform DOVVSU for immediate action to be taken to address the problem.
She also called on traditional authorities to support DOVVSU in various ways to fight SGBV in the communities.
The forum which was organised by the DOVVSU in collaboration with the Volta Regional Coordinating Council (VRCC) was sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
It was attended by the district heads of department, traditional rulers, students and members of the public.
FROM ALBERTO MARIO NORETTI, KPEVE
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