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Domestic Violence in Ghana: The Open Secret

68 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2010 Last revised: 7 Jun 2017

Nancy Chi Cantalupo

Barry University - Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law

Lisa V. Martin

University of South Carolina School of Law

Kay Pak


Sue Shin

DSE, Inc.

Date Written: September 13, 2010


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.)

Keywords: domestic violence, Ghana, mediation, women’s rights, fact-finding

JEL Classification: K00, K32, K33, K40

Suggested Citation

Cantalupo, Nancy Chi and Martin, Lisa V. and Pak, Kay and Shin, Sue, Domestic Violence in Ghana: The Open Secret (September 13, 2010). Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, Vol. 7, 2006; Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 10-56. Available at SSRN:

Nancy Chi Cantalupo (Contact Author)

Barry University - Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law ( email )

6441 East Colonial Drive
Orlando, FL 32807
United States

Lisa V. Martin

University of South Carolina School of Law ( email )

1525 Senate Street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

Kay Pak

HSBC Bank USA ( email )

452 Fifth Ave
New York, NY 100018
United States

Sue Shin

DSE, Inc. ( email )

Tampa, FL
United States

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