‘I’m free with people. I like helping my community.’ Manu Yaa lives with her daughter in Brong Ahafo, Ghana, where she’s a member of her village’s anti-violence team. Manu says there used to be a lot of violence against women and children in her community, but after six years of her team’s work this has reduced considerably. Here’s how they’ve brought down violence in Brong Ahafo:
"It is important for COMBAT to be here," Manu explains. "Before the way women and children were treated was very bad."
‘COMBAT’ stands for Community Based Anti-violence Team – a group of volunteers, including Manu, suggested by the village’s chief who work together to tackle violence. ActionAid trains COMBAT squads on human rights, social welfare, and support for survivors of domestic violence, and supports them regularly with further training and supplies.
Working to end violence against women
As part of her village’s COMBAT squad, Manu speaks to people at local churches and mosques, helps spread the word about the importance of education, and hosts local women at her house to help fight domestic violence.
"We discuss the issues. I do a lot of counselling. I teach people how to handle violence, how to make a report to the Domestic and Violence Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) and the Commission of Human Rights."
Bringing down violence isn’t easy, but the COMBAT squad is already making a difference in girls’ lives. Manu told us how she helped one girl who was being mistreated by her parents:
"A young girl came to me and said she wanted to attend school but her parents wouldn’t let her, they had no money. They wanted her home to do the chores and they insulted her. I talked to the parents and in the end persuaded them to let her have an education."
Stand with Manu
The changes Manu’s making are badly needed. Violence against women is no small problem – it’s one of the most widespread violations of human rights in the world. Luckily, there are incredible women like Manu standing up against violence – not just in Ghana, but all over the world.
But governments everywhere need to do more to stand with them. And this September, they have a big chance to do just that, when they meet to finalise the new Sustainable Development Goals in New York.
We’re standing with women like Manu against violence. Will you stand with us?