Domestic Violence

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CHAPTER ONE

BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Domestic violence is one major human right abuse in Ghana. In Ghana, the prevalence of domestic violence is said to cut across all sectors of society and ages. Victims of such violence are predominantly women and children. On physical abuse only, studies have revealed that one out of three Ghanaian women has been physically abused by an intimate partner. Domestic violence is one of the most brutal consequences of the economic, social, political and cultural inequalities that exist between the sexes. Steinmetz (1987) has defined violence as “an act carried out with the intention of, or an act perceived as having the intention of physically hurting another”. According to Davies (1994), the term domestic violence is sometimes used to describe violence against women in the family while in other instances it is used as a general label covering any violation where the victim and the perpetrator have some form of personal and family relationship or have had a relationship in the past. Used in this wider sense, domestic violence encompasses any threats or acts of physical or sexual harm; economic, emotional, verbal or psychological abuse; and harmful cultural practices that takes place within the context of previous or existing domestic relationship.

The family is often equated with sanctuary – a place where individual seeks love, safety, security and shelter. But the evidence show that it is also a place that imperils lives, and breeds some of the most drastic forms of violence perpetrated against women.

Violence in the domestic sphere is usually perpetrated by males who are, or who have been, in position of trust and intimacy and power – husbands, boyfriends, fathers, fathers-in law, stepfathers, uncles, brothers and other relatives. Domestic violence is in most cases violence perpetrated by men against women. Women can also be violent, but their actions account for a small percentage of domestic violence.

Domestic violence was first established as a development issue at the United Nations Decade for Women’s meeting in Nairobi in 1985. Since then, international organizations and locally based agencies, and individual activities across the world have campaigned vigorously against abuses such as rape, wife beating, sexual slavery and harassment among others.

In spite of these efforts domestic violence is still the most common and widespread form of violence throughout the world. Studies have shown that women and children especially the girl child constitute majority of the victims. This in no way suggests that boys and men are not also victims of domestic violence. However, focusing on the larger percentage of the population, women and girls are victims of domestic violence. Jurist and, human rights experts and activists have argued that the physical, Sexual and psychological abuse, sometimes with fatal outcomes inflicted on women is comparable to tortured in both nature and severity.

When women are abused, they are left with so little confidence in themselves and their abilities that they are unable to measure up in the development of the nation. This implies that over half of the physical and intellectual capacity of the labor force is lost. Sometimes abused women are either unable to work because their husbands do not permit them or because they are suffering such severe physical or emotional trauma that work is impossible.

The effects of violence on the victim especially the married women are damaging. In some cases of physical, sexual or economic violence, it is easy to recognize the effects. In those that are psychological in nature and form, it is more difficult to recognize and know the full effect. The impacts of physical and sexual violence also have psychological manifestation, which often cause permanent damage to the victim.

Fear is the most predominant feeling that surface when working with victims of domestic violence. Fear determines their actions...
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