Battered, bloodied and bruised: how Ghana gives domestic violence the silent treatment

The murder of Barbara Tommey signals how prevalent male dominance of the family is and how easily it can lead to violence

Domestic violence is a scourge in societies across the world. The problem of domestic violence against women is particularly acute, and tonight on Asaase Radio Professor Angie throws light on the problem in a special edition of Beautiful Minds (starts 8pm).

The press has been throwing the spotlight again on domestic violence this past week, following the murder in the United States of Barbara Tommey, a woman of Ghanaian descent, allegedly killed by her husband, Sylvester Ofori, also a Ghanaian.

The 27-year-old Tommey was shot in the back in Orlando, Florida, in front of the Navy Federal Credit Union building. Ofori is the pastor of a charismatic church, the Floodgates of Heaven International Ministries. He has since been charged with Tommey’s murder.

This horrific crime has triggered conversations about the dominance of the male figure in most Ghanaian families, which is entrenched by social and cultural practices.

From squabbling to slaps

Ghanaian cultural systems drive patriarchal narratives and a social order that ranks one partner as superior to the other.

The dominant position taken by the man in most families can lead to violence during domestic disputes if it goes unchecked. And, in some cases, that imbalance can end in murder.

A briefing note by the United Nations in Ghana about the impact of COVID-19 on gender-based violence, published in April 2020, suggested: “Considering these statistics even in an ‘ordinary’ period, domestic violence has a high tendency of increasing during the COVID-19 lockdown in Ghana and is very likely to go unreported.’’

A national survey conducted in 2016 supports social media claims that attitudes, beliefs and practices have led to violence against women.

This is because many Ghanaians falsely believe that a woman gives up her rights to her husband at the point of marriage, particularly when a bride price has been paid.

Nathaniel Crabbe

* Professor Angie is in conversation with Dr Angela Dwamena Aboagye, executive director of the Ark Foundation, for “Beautiful Minds” on Asaase Radio (99.5 Mhz, 14 September 2020, starts 8pm).
* Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online.
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