“Before a girl will be able to buy fish from a canoe, unless she exchanges meat with fish. Unless you are the girlfriend, you will never get fish to buy in any canoe.”
These were the words of the President of the National Fish Processors and Traders Association, Regina Solomon, who was narrating the sort of abuse women go through in the fishing sector.
She was speaking at the durbar to commemorate 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence organised by USAID in Kedzikofe in Keta in the Volta Region.
Madam Solomon explained that fish traders risk losing their positions due to old age, hence giving off their teenage children to fishermen to secure their slots.
She lamented how women who fail to follow this custom are denied sales in the coastal communities in Ghana.
“If he impregnates you, he won’t mind you, the upkeep of the household depends solely on you, while he continues to sell his catch to you”, she said.
Another interesting phenomenon is that, women are major financiers of fishing business in the coastal areas, but end up losing their capital due to discrimination by their male counterparts.
Madam Solomon narrated how the investments of women have been locked up with their ‘husbands and boyfriends’, who refuse to pay back money used to purchase fishing gears for them.
She concluded that gender-based violence and the abuse of women’s rights are high in the sector, calling on the relevant institution to work towards ending the menace.
“Gender-based violence in the fishing industry is getting bad. It must be stopped”, she said.
It was against this backdrop that the USAID decided to embark on a campaign against gender-based violence in fishing communities.
The campaign witnessed a float activity during which participants held inscriptions that highlighted information on gender-based violence and its repercussions on the society.
The USAID Economic Growth Office Director, Paul Pleva, underscored the roles of stakeholders, urging them to be self-advocates in ending gender-based violence.
“Your help in identifying solutions in working with your community is critical. I encourage you to take action. Be an advocate, a helper, and a voice against abuse”, he said.
Mr. Pleva assured of his country’s continuous support to reducing gender-based violence in Ghana.
The Keta Municipal Chief Executive, Emmanuel Gemegah, appealed to USAID to support the Assembly to undertake education, health, agriculture, women empowerment and water transport projects in the municipality.
This he believes coupled with initiatives of the Assembly would help improve the livelihoods of the fisherfolks, reduce their dependency on fishing and ultimately lessen gender-based violence.
An assessment funded by USAID highlighted issues of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment in Ghana’s fishing sector.
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, also indicated that about 48% of females in Ghana have been sexually abused, while 32% have faced at least one form of violence.
Source: Ghana News