Domestic Violence in Ghana: The Open Secret

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This report discusses the findings of a Georgetown Law International Women’s Human Rights Clinic fact-finding team that traveled to Ghana, Africa in March 2003 to investigate domestic violence. The report reviews the contours of the domestic violence problem in Ghana and outlines the ways in which Ghanaian law and procedure was insufficiently addressing the problem at the time. Its chief findings include that the Ghanaian laws existing in 2003 inadequately punished perpetrators and protected victims of domestic violence and that court and police enforcement of the existing law was lacking, including because the government was allowing the removal of domestic violence cases from the legal system in favor of formal and informal mediation. Accordingly, the report concludes with recommendations that Ghana pass specific domestic violence legislation (already before Parliament at the time the report was written), that Ghana adopt procedures for screening cases involving domestic violence out of various dispute resolution processes involving mediation (a draft screening mechanism was appended to the report), and that Ghana build the capacity of law enforcement to deal with domestic violence cases (proposed police procedures were also appended). (Postscript: specific domestic violence legislation was subsequently passed in Ghana in 2007.)