Text editing by Matthew R. Bishop. Published by World Report News. Thursday, September 4th, 2015
It has been agreed upon, from before the time of Jefferson to after the passage of the International Bill of Human Rights, that human beings are endowed with certain inalienable rights. These rights are neither privileges nor gifts given at the whims and caprices of a ruler or a government. Rather they are claims we have by virtue of the fact that we are human beings more importantly than citizens of a particular country. Though firmly established in our aspirations, too many of the world's people continue to reach for these elusive inalienable rights and find little success.
These supposedly inalienable rights are abused and violated to an extent that the respect for dignity as human beings is no longer valued in many countries at all.
Human rights today have received an important credence in democracies all over the world. These rights are also keys to sustainable development, peace and security around the globe.
Human rights, among others, are set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN general assembly in 1948. The Declaration contains an enumeration of fundamental human rights such as equality without discrimination, the right to life, liberty and security of person, the right to the inviolability of dignity, and to protection of rights by an impartial tribunal. In addition, the Declaration maintains that human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights; they are "endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood".
Globally, it is estimated that over 50% of women have experienced domestic violence (Kishor and Johnson, 2004), and this is more pronounced in Africa than in other parts of the world. Like other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, domestic violence is a problem in Ghana most likely due to the structures of domination and exploitation often peddled through the concept of patriarchy (Ampofo, 1993; Offei-Aboagye, 1994). Of the 5015 cases of domestic violence between January 1999 and December 2002 recorded at the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVSSU) of the Ghana Police Service, more than a third was due to wife battering/assault (Amoakohene, 2004).
Besides human rights concerns, domestic violence also has health and psychosocial consequences that can negatively affect Ghana’s chances of attaining the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, of eradicating violence among women, HIV/AIDS, hunger and poverty (Abama and Kwaja, 2009). While the evidence across sub-Saharan Africa and Ghana in particular suggests an increase in the incidence and prevalence of domestic and marital violence, the problem has largely been unexplored (Amoakohene, 2004; Offei-Aboagye, 1994).
Domestic violence against women has become an impediment to the achievement of universal human rights. There are commissions, documents, policies and programmes put in place to promote and protect the rights of women but this ugly phenomenon still persists.
This case study sought to explore the issue of domestic violence against women as a human rights violation, its effects, causes and prevalence in the Effutu Municipality of Ghana. A case study design was employed for this study and one hundred and fifty (150) people participated in the study. The main instruments used in gathering relevant data were a semi-structured questionnaire and an interview guide.
The results of the study indicate that 1) infidelity in marriages, 2) ignorance on the part of couples concerning their rights, 3) irresponsibility on the part of parents, 4) outdated traditions or cultural practices and 5) lack of enforcement of domestic violence laws are some of the factors causing domestic violence in the Effutu Municipality.
Physical injury, divorce or separation, damage to properties, emotional trauma, couples becoming timid and insecure, and finally loss of self-esteem, were some of the effects of domestic violence in the Effutu Municipality.
The results of the study further showed that domestic violence is prevalent in the Effutu Municipality and that most women were willing to seek help whenever they are abused. They mostly sought for help from family members, friends, counselors, and the police.
The study also brought to the fore that domestic violence against women is prevalent in the Effutu Municipality. From the focus group discussion, out of 120 people, 80 people said they have been abused more than once, and also out of 30 women interviewed, 28 women had been abused. Thus majority of the women were abused more than once.
To help reduce or curb domestic violence against women in the Effutu Municipality and the country at large, the following suggestions should be implemented:
• Relevant human rights laws must be enforced by the police service; Culprits should be punished per the requirements of those laws
• There should be thorough investigations by the police services
• People at large should be educated about human rights and effects of domestic violence by the institutions assigned to handle violence issues
• Social clubs should be set up in the affected communities to educate and counsel people on domestic violence
• Human rights and domestic violence education should be provided to couples, not just individuals, in order to more seriously bring to their notices the causes and adverse effects of domestic violence.
• Women should be empowered through education, employment opportunities and legal literacy (the ability to understand laws and the rights granted to them by those laws). This reduces abuse rates.
• Outdated cultural practices which encourage abuse must be abolished.