The SAVE Project Is a new and different way that FIDA-Ghana is seeking to address domestic violence. SAVE intends to strengthen the agency of female survivors of domestic violence to apply for protection and occupation orders as a legal remedy to protect themselves. This goal also relates to OSIWA’s current priorities to ensure equal access to justice to the vulnerable. The project adopts a three way approach; protection, prevention and justice services to sustain actions on violence prevention and is expected to reach 216, 391 community members, policy makers, state actors, community paralegals and male beneficiaries.
Through a combination of new media tools, a baseline study , legal rights education, advocacy campaigns and strengthening of inter –institutional coordination at both national and district levels, the project will activate community, multi-agency and national actions to strengthen protective measures under the Domestic Violence Act 732, (DV) to improve access to justice for 350 female beneficiaries. Assessment reports under an earlier OSIWA supported project (2012-2015), demonstrated that the assessment approach adopted to improve policies and practices of duty bearers was successful in influencing 75% of state actors to establish partnerships with other duty bearers to improve justice delivery for women.
Therefore, FIDA-Ghana intends to draw on the lessons of this approach to strengthen multi agency approach towards improving the uptake of legal remedies to women, and ultimately have a better chance of successful resolution of cases.
Technology is becoming increasingly relevant to the justice sector and this project intends to utilize the opportunities presented by new media tools such as the SMS gateway, to hear the voices of often excluded women in the legal processes. A strategic approach which is aligned to OSIWA’s current strategic outcomes. This will provide a rich source of electronic evidence of the challenges women encounter in accessing justice from state actors such as the Domestic Violence and Victims support Unit, (DOVVSU), the courts and health facilities.
Additionally, the use of SMS platforms is also a means to test new approaches to strengthening accountability of justice services and the empowerment of citizens, particularly women to improve their justice journeys. Mini Podcasts of justice journeys of female beneficiaries will be incorporated into the project as an approach to providing legal information and recounting success stories of women’s justice journeys.
The SAVE project targets national institutions such as DOVVSU and the courts but will focus its activities mainly in two districts of Greater Accra namely Ga South and La Nkwantanang District, working with community paralegals who benefitted from trainings under an earlier OSIWA project to support women within and beyond the project area. At the national level the SAVE project will contribute towards strengthening the enforcement and implementation of the free medical provision under section 8 (c ) of the DV Act 732, which is not enforced and has been linked to the 70% high attrition of domestic violence cases nationally .
Effective justice systems depends on a number of factors, notable among these is the depth of human rights knowledge of state actors such as DOVVSU and court staff, that FIDA has formed strategic partnerships with. This is essential for the progressive development of marginalized women in a developing society. A development that flourishes on the basis of sustainable development also lies at the heart of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on peace and justice. The project will therefore adopt a rights based approach to enhance the knowledge and skills of state actors including community paralegals. Legal aid officers of FIDA-Ghana will provide legal aid services, and coaching of clients. The coaching sessions is also building up on the earlier project with OSIWA, a novel approach to empower women to represent themselves, which exceeded project outcomes by 60%. Judging from this successful approach, FIDA intends to apply lessons learnt and best practices to the SAVE project to increase uptake of legal remedies by women survivors of abuse