A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), The Pearl Safe Haven is building an emergency temporary shelter for female survivors of gender-based violence, located on the outskirts of Accra in Ghana. Co-founded by Akosua Agyepong, Teresa Barnes and Isobel Afful-Mensah, the vision of the Pearl Safe Haven is to deliver on a shelter that will provide women and their children a safe haven for up to 3 months as well as access to legal assistance, psychological help and practical skills training to empower them to exit the Haven.
The construction of the Pearl Safe Haven has been made possible by the financial and in-kind support of organisations such as the Australian High Commission in Accra, Geodrill, Mohinani Group, Nexans Kabelmetal and Diamond Cement. The construction has been carried out by BKT Construction (headed by Kwabena Kissiedu and Nana Ofosu Osafo), a local construction company with construction project management support for the Pearl Safe Haven team by Mr Godfred Boateng-Antwi.
In an interview with Teresa Barnes, she explained that the female-led project was birthed because there are limited safe places for rehabilitation for women who are survivors of abuse:
“You don’t really have an enabling environment for survivors in Ghana. Many times, survivors need to be extracted from the dangerous place and put in a safe place in order to heal and move forward,” she shared.
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action are both calls adopted in 1993 and 1995 respectively, to end violence against women and girls. These Instruments recognize the brutality women and girls face and provide guidance for the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence to accelerate efforts to achieve a more just world.
In addition to the construction of the Safe Haven, the Safe Haven team is focused on engaging in awareness campaigning on gender-based violence in collaboration with the Coalition for Survivors of Domestic Violence and has developed a 24-hour “Safe Place” Mobile Application platform to provide curated news stories, resources and a forum to seek support and share stories.
Isobel Afful-Mensah shared that the organization would vigorously champion gender advocacy through raising awareness of justice and the rights to empower women:
“Our big focus is on the survivors, we are eager to garner support for survivors especially as the Safe Haven becomes fully operational to welcome survivors this November. It is imperative to give survivors the physical, emotional and mental space to plan for the future. It is not an answer to domestic violence but a critical step to achieving more justice,” she noted.
The founders shared that they are eager for the general public to understand the importance and urgency of partnering with the survivors. Anyone can be a survivor of violence – it is not something you choose and abuse is certainly not a respecter of age, ethnicity or social class. Partnering can be done as an individual, company/team, church group or friends/family.