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Ghana: Update to GHA35667.E of 6 November 2000 on the treatment of women, including domestic violence, forced or arranged marriages, and divorce procedures; state protection available to victims; non-governmental organizations that assist women (2001-February 2004)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 25 February 2004
Citation / Document Symbol GHA42417.FE
Reference 1
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ghana: Update to GHA35667.E of 6 November 2000 on the treatment of women, including domestic violence, forced or arranged marriages, and divorce procedures; state protection available to victims; non-governmental organizations that assist women (2001-February 2004) , 25 February 2004, GHA42417.FE , available at: [accessed 31 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Corroborating sources indicated that violence against women, including domestic violence, is widespread in Ghana (United Nations 27 Feb. 2003; WILPF 1 Dec. 2003; The Ghanaian Chronicle 13 Mar. 2003). Citing statements made by the president of the Ghanaian Division of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (Fédération internationale des avocates, FIDA), a non-governmental organization that provides legal assistance and other services to women, The Ghanaian Chronicle estimated that one in three women has been a victim of domestic violence (13 Mar. 2003). Furthermore, the President of FIDA stated that 60 per cent of women who leave rural areas to work in the city as "porters" had fled their homes as a result of domestic violence (FORNESSA 13 June 2003).

The Website for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) indicated that, in Ghana, "one in three women has suffered from physical violence while one in three has also suffered from psychological violence" (WILPF 1 Dec. 2003). According to the same source, one in four women had been threatened with physical violence, while one in three had been sexually harassed (ibid.). In 90 per cent of these cases, the perpetrators were men, and 95 per cent of them were close relatives of the victims (ibid.).

As of 30 September 2002, according to the statistical data collected from nine cities in the country by the Women ad Juvenile Unit (WAJU), a division of the Ghanaian police force, approximately 3,155 cases of violence, including cases of sexual assault and rape, had been reported to the police that year (University of Minnesota Jan. 2004).

Sources also indicated that Ghanian women continue to be subjected to genital mutilation (United Nations 2 June 2003; Ghana Home Page 17 Sept. 2003; Medical News Today 4 Feb. 2004), despite the fact that female genital mutilation was declared illegal in 1994 (ibid.).

Legally, certain clauses of the 1992 Constitution and the Ghanaian Criminal Code provide for criminal sanctions for violence and other cruel and inhuman practices against women, including rape and forced marriage (United Nations 27 Feb. 2003; News From Africa Dec. 2003; Accra Mail 27 Mar. 2002; see also GHA39605.E of 19 September 2002).

However, some sources indicated that these provisions are inadequate to protect women from violence (Accra Mail 27 Mar. 2002; WILPF 1 Dec. 2003). Other sources noted that changes to the 1994 legislation on genital mutilation were necessary to take into account the persons who were accomplices in these mutilations, including the victim's family members (Medical News Today 4 Feb. 2004; University of Minnesota Jan. 2004). The deputy inspector general of police in Ghana pointed out that, in her opinion, "although most domestic violence cases are reported to the police first, most victims do not receive the needed response" (WILPF 1 Dec. 2003).

Several stakeholders, including the Ghanaian government, recognized the necessity of enacting a new law on domestic violence (ibid.; Accra Mail 27 Mar. 2002; FORNESSA 13 June 2003). In fact, according to two sources, a new domestic violence bill had already been introduced in the Ghanaian parliament (University of Minnesota Jan. 2004; The Ghanaian Chronicle 24 Apr. 2003)

With regard to divorce procedures in Ghana, two articles published in The Ghanaian Chronicle explained that couples can divorce legally through the court system, but many women are unaware of this option (The Ghanaian Chronicle 31 Oct. 2003; ibid. 17 Sept. 2003). The procedure for divorce applies to both civil and customary marriages (ibid.). According to Ghanaian divorce law, each spouse is entitled to half of the assets the couple acquired during their marriage (ibid. 31 Oct. 2003; ibid. 17 Sept. 2003). A woman is also entitled to regular support payments if she has custody of any children (ibid. 31 Oct. 2003; ibid. 17 Sept. 2003). The Ghanaian Chronicle cited a woman who went to court to obtain her divorce as saying that, in Ghana, "the legal process is slow, but she is glad she used the courts to get what she is entitled to" (ibid.).

Among the women's rights non-governmental organizations in Ghana are the Ghanaian Association for Women's Welfare (GAWW) (Medical News Today 4 Feb. 2004; United States 1 June 2001), FIDA (Accra Mail 27 Mar. 2002; The Ghanaian Chronicle 13 Mar. 2002; FIDA n.d.) and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an association of various women's organizations (FORNESSA 13 June 2004).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Accra Mail. 27 March 2002. "Domestic Violence Bill Needs Support - FIDA." [Accessed 16 Feb. 2004]

Forestry Research Network for Sub-Saharan Africa (FORNESSA). 13 June 2003. "Domestic Violence Bill for Parliament." [Accessed 10 Feb. 2004]

Ghana Home Page. 17 September 2003. "Workshop on Eradication of F.G.M Held at Wa." [Accessed 11 Feb. 2004]

The Ghanaian Chronicle [Accra]. 31 October 2003. Bennett Akuaku. "Divorce and the Courts: One Woman's Frustrations." [Accessed 18 Feb. 2004]

_____. 17 September 2003. George Kyei Frimpong. "Traditional Divorce: The Woman Gets Her Fair Share." [Accessed 18 Feb. 2004]

_____. 24 April 2003. Druscilla Lartey. "Can Rape Take Place in Marital Home?" [Accessed 10 Feb. 2004]

_____. 13 March 2003. Vol. 3, No. 37. "DCE on Spousal Violence. Use Dialogue Rather than Violence ... to Settle Differences." [Accessed 17 Feb. 2004]

International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA). n.d. "Ghana." [Accessed 13 Feb. 2004]

Medical News Today [East Sussex]. 4 February 20004. "Female Genital Mutilation in Ghana." [Accessed 11 Feb. 2004]

News from Africa. December 2003. "Child Molestation on the Increase." [Accessed 17 Feb. 2004]

United Nations. 2 June 2003. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Ghana: Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. [Accessed 17 Feb. 2004]

_____. 27 February 2003. Commission on Human Rights. Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective Violence Against Women. Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Submitted in Accordance with Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2002/25. [Accessed 12 Feb. 2004]

United States. 1 June 2001. Department of State, Washington, DC. Report on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Cutting (FGC). [Accessed 13 Feb. 2004]

University of Minnesota, Human Rights Library. January 2004. Supplement to Chapter 15: Refugee and Asylum Law. [Accessed 11 Feb. 2004]

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). 1 December 2003. Isabelle Cyau Orhin. "Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence: The Crusade Continues." [Accessed 10 Feb. 2004]

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential


IRB Databases

Resource Centre country file. Ghana

West Africa

Internet sites, including:


Amnesty International

European Country of Origin Information Network

Human Rights Watch


Women Watch

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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