Report from the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women in Ghana
Wednesday, June 4, 2008 1:23 PM

The UN recently released a report from the Special Rapporteur to Ghana, based on his trip from 7 to 14 of July, 2007.  Ghana adopted the Domestic Violence Act in 2007 but still faces many problems with its implementation.  The first problem is the dual governance and legal system, based on national law on the one hand and customary law on the other.  The second problem is a lack of funding and training for programs meant to protect women and improve their status in Ghana.


While trying to fulfill its international obligations as well as uphold the national laws of Ghana, there is an additional system of customary law governed by traditional authorities.  The traditional system of laws generally discriminates against women and does not respect gender equality.  Women and girls face many dangers, including forced servitude, early marriage, inability to inherit property or land, female genital mutilation, and exile to “witch camps.”  And while the national law is supposed to supersede customary law, this often does not happen in practice, especially in rural areas.


The other major obstacle for women’s rights in Ghana is lack of funding and sufficient training for those working in the field.  As a result of debt and general poverty, the government is unable to support system and programs to provide targeted funding towards women and the issues that most affect them, such as education gaps and domestic violence.  What is needed is stronger support from the international community, in addition to greater efforts on the part of Ghana to implement action plans, including limiting the role of customary law which discriminates against women in favor of national and international law.


Compiled from: Ertürk, Yakin, "Ghana - Mission of UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women," Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights, 21 February, 2008.