Inerela+Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation has held a three-day capacity building workshop for selected religious leaders in Accra.
It educated participants on best ways to address Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for women and girls, HIV and AIDS counselling and, mental health issue in their line of work.
Mrs Mercy Acquah-Hayford, National Coordinator, Inerela+ Ghana said the workshop was necessitated by the need to equip religious with the requisite skills to reduce the high rate of divorces and social violence in their communities.
The participants are expected to form advocacy groups to hold community outreaches and lobby for policy change against harmful societal norms for the vulnerable and underserved population in their communities.
Mrs Acquah-Hayford said SGBV against women and girls was on the rise in most communities in the Greater Accra Region and appealed to churches to help provide shelters for GBV victims across the country.
Sexual and Gender Based Violence refers to any act; physical, emotional, economical or psychological, perpetuated against a person’s will, it is based on gender norms and unequal power relationships.
Mr Cephas Essiful-Ansah, a Legal Officer at the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, (CHRAG), in a presentation on specific laws on GBV in Ghana said globally, one in three women have been beaten, coerced inti sex or abused by their partners.
Similarly, about 641 million women worldwide have also experienced at least one incidence of physical and sexual violence from a romantic partner.
He encouraged women and girls to speak up and report person who abuse them to appropriate authorities.
For her part, Ms Paulina Louisa Essel, the Deputy Chief Registrar at CHRAJ stressed the need for religious leaders to encourage members of their community to seek mental health care when stressed with life challenges.
“One of the problems that people face when it comes to seeking help for mental health is that they do not know when they need to seek help. The lack of awareness is so prominent that most people do not even understand the difference between mental health and mental illness, “she said.
She said mental health conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety may develop due to underlying, life-changing physical health problems, such as cancer, diabetes and chronic pain.
She urged all to take their mental health seriously for reduced anxiety, improved moods and clear thinking.
Ms Juliet Ewurasi Koomson, a participant of the workshop thanked Inerela+Ghana for organizing such an insightful workshop.
” I now have a clearer understanding of how to handle HIV stigma and discrimination issues, I have learnt to overcome and how to address the fears related to exposing people who abuse their partners,” she said.
By Linda Naa Deide Aryeetey, GNA