Friday, July 13, 2007

Trying to call the police

Today and yesterday we had our final interviews with -new- organizations, though we'll continue re-meeting with all our organizations up until the day we leave.

Thursday was one of the most successful interviews yet, and the contact person--a woman who heads up a major part of the organization's programming--was enthusiastic and helped us with the last bit of information we needed for our resource booklet. She provided us a copy of the recently passed Domestic Violence Act, which we've been searching for everywhere, and also let us use their legal library. But once again, I was struck by the information that she didn't have.

Recently in Ghana, the government set up a subdivision of the police department that deals strictly with domestic violence. The impetus for the change was that a large number of women complained that when they brought domestic violence complaints to the police department, male police officers sent them back home without addressing their complaints, usually attributing the violence to some fault in the woman. In order to address this, the government established the separate DV department so women would have their complaints adequately addressed. Women are encouraged to contact the department directly. So it follows that I naturally want to include the most up-to-date contact information for this division in our resource booklet, but we've had some difficulty finding it. Online searches, for instance, came up with nothing. So on Thursday, after discussion the DV division with our contact person, I asked the organization--which specializes in gender violence--if they could provide me the phone numbers for the DV divisions in major cities in Ghana.

The woman looked confused for a second, then wrinkled her face in thought.
"Hm.. I'm not sure where that number would be. One moment."
She got up, looked through some papers, then came back.
"So, do you want to interview them, or what?"
We explained that we just wanted to include the number as a resource for at-risk women.
The woman shuffled through some more papers, put the thought on hold, and said she would look for it later. Eventually, she did find *a* number, although cautioned that it might not be current.

Why wasn't this number plastered on their walls? Why would a major DV organization not have the contact information on hand for the DV unit in the police? It was troubling, if not frustrating, and I'm thinking more and more that our resource booklet will provide a needed service. Today we met with the representative for a consortium for women's empowerment NGOs, and we asked for a list of contact information for the member organizations.
"We only have the phone numbers for a few of the organizations," she said as she handed us the list. Stesha and I looked at each other--not surprised, but frustrated nonetheless.

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