GHANA: Media Practitioners Urged to Report More on Social Issues

A member of the Ghanaian Association for Women's Welfare (GAWW), Mrs. Clare Banoe-Yakabu has urged Ghanaian Media Practitioners to be tactical when writing or commenting on issues that have both religious and traditional connotations.

According to her even though the media has the huge task of exposing all issues that tend to affect the socio-developmental of the country if such issues are not handled with caution the aim of government in curbing certain social-vices in the society will be futile.

Mrs. Banoe-Yakabu who is also a journalist said the lack of caution exercised by many Media Practitioners in dealing with issues such as the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Trokosi system has made it difficult for government to have a clear statistics as to whether there has been any progress in halting the practice.

She indicated that Media Practitioners instead of condemning such practices should use a more educative approach in explaining how dehumanizing they are and the effect they have on the society.

Mrs. Banoe-Yakabu said this while delivering a paper on the role of the media in the campaign to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation and other social vises at a day's training and communication workshop for journalists on Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) organized by the Ghanaian Association for Women's Welfare (GAWW) in Accra.

"Media Practitioners should serve as facilitators to bring both communities where such practices are going on and other stakeholders together to brainstorm on how best they can find solution's to many of these social vices in our society, she said."

According to her journalists in the discharge of their duties should dwell more on social issues such as the barbaric FGM, which is mostly practiced in the Upper East, Upper West, Northern and Volta regions of Ghana.

She further urged Media Practitioners to give positive publicity to communities that have stopped such practices so as to aide other communities to stop practicing them

The President of GAWW, Mrs. Florence Ali said FGM is practiced in many African countries including Ghana with an estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women having undergone some form of FGM and a further two million girls are made to under go the practice every year.

She indicated that the practice involves the use of special knives, scissors, razors or pieces of broken glass which are sometimes reused without cleaning them and this could lead to the transmission of diseases including, Tetanus , sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B.

According to her many reasons have been given by those who practice such acts and some of these believes are that unless a girl's clitoris is removed she cannot be a matured woman and will not have the right to associate with her peers and ancestors.

"Some communities believe that such practices ensure that such girl's keep their virginity for marriage and also such a practice is a form of rite that initiates the girl into womanhood, she said."

She indicated that the practice of FGM has both short-term and long-term physical complications on the women and some of these include, severe pain, bleeding, shock, fever, fractured bones, acute urine retention and general blood poisoning.

Some of the long-term complications include the difficulty in passing urine due to the damage of the urethra, urinary tract infection, pelvic infection diseases, infertility, keloid scar and difficulties in menstrual flow.

She said that her association is the national committee of the Inter-African Committee which was set up after the establishment of the Inter-African Committee at the Dakar Conference in 1984.

The Association since its establishment has carried out researches and activities aimed at sensitizing the public, disseminating information and helping in the training of traditional birth attendants and others on the effects of certain harmful traditional practices including FGM.

A Former Director at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mrs. Christina Dadzie said the practice of FGM is a human rights abuse that affects the health of girls who undergo such a dehumanizing practice.

She revealed that by Act 741 of the Criminal Code it is an offence for anybody to engage in such a practice and offenders are liable for a term imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than ten years.

Mrs. Dadzie said although there is a law that frowns on the practice, the inability of the law to prosecute cross border offenders has offered people the opportunity to take their female children to neighboring countries like Burkina Faso to engage the services of practitioners.


AUTHOR: Selorm Amevor

URL: Click here

DATE: 23/01/2008

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