Revisiting the Ghost of Domestic Violence Legislation-Perspectives from Ghana and South Africa

Posted: 26 Mar 2014

Date Written: 2014


The passage of the Domestic Violence Act in South Africa (1998) and in Ghana (2007) were heralded as key developments for addressing gender based violence in both countries. These laws took the concerted effort of women’s groups, members of parliament, support of the clergy and civil society groups concerned with women’s rights. Since the passage of these laws, there is still strong evidence to suggest that legislative attempts at addressing domestic violence have remained nothing but a window dressing. In addition to the national attempts at addressing gender violence, both South Africa and Ghana have signed and ratified many international conventions and treaties for protecting women’s rights, such as the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all kinds of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979). Despite domestic and international attempts at addressing violence against women, the interpretation and implementation of these laws have not achieved the desired outcomes. Using feminist legal theory and institutionalism as theoretical frameworks, this paper explores the institutional, socio-cultural and legal challenges to the effective interpretation and implementation of domestic violence legislation in both countries. The paper provides case studies of the challenges within the judiciary in effectively addressing domestic violence through the courts. This paper fits the conference theme Creating justice by exploring the historical and current contexts in which struggles for women’s rights have taken place. It also discusses the context of the struggle for women’s rights in two African countries and how such struggles mirror other global efforts at addressing violence against women.

Suggested Citation

Dawuni, Josephine Jarpa and Bonthuys, Elsje, Revisiting the Ghost of Domestic Violence Legislation-Perspectives from Ghana and South Africa (2014). ASA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN:

Josephine Jarpa Dawuni (Contact Author)

Howard University ( email )

2400 Sixth Street, NW
Department of Political Science
Washington, DC 20059
United States


Elsje Bonthuys

University of the Witwatersrand ( email )

1 Jan Smuts Avenue
Gauteng 2000
South Africa

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