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Examination of intimate partner femicide in Ghana: A qualitative inquiry

Lead Researcher: Emmanual Rohn

Photo of Emmanuel Rohn.

Globally, women continue to bear the brunt of lethal violence due to gender stereotypes and inequality. The 2018 United Nations on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report on “Global Study on Homicide” showed that a total of 87, 000 women were murdered on purpose in 2017. Out of this total, approximately 50,000 were killed by intimate partners. Additionally, Asia had the highest number of women intentionally killed by intimate partners (20,000), followed by Africa (19,000), the Americas (8,000), Europe (3,000), and Oceania (300). The report further indicated that women in Africa are more vulnerable to violence and more likely to be killed by their intimate partners.

Despite these grim statistics of spousal killings in Africa, research on intimate partner femicide (IPF) has received little research attention in sub-Saharan Africa. To this point, most studies have been conducted in western societies. In Ghana, the paucity of scholarly work in this important area is unfortunate, given the pervasive nature of IPF in Ghana as shown by anecdotal evidence. To the best of my knowledge, less than three scholarly research work has been conducted on femicide in Ghana (see Adinkrah, 2008).

This research will be guided by the feminist theory of homicide. The concept of patriarchy, or a society dominated by men and consequently repressive and fatal to women, lies at the heart of this approach. Scholars note that oppressive ideas of women are not only culturally sanctioned, but also imbedded in and reflected via all social institutions (Taylor and Jasinski, 2011). Embedded within most African societies are patriarchal traditions and norms that emphasizes male dominance and female submissiveness (Wilson-Williams et al., 2008), contributing to greater disparities in power (Freedman, 2002; García-Moreno et al., 2005). For example, Amoakohene (2004), note that Ghanaian culture expects women to be submissive to their husbands and be obedient, dutiful, and serviceable to the point where challenging these expectations is perceived as an effort to subvert the man’s authority and likely to be met with lethal force.

My research seeks to address the following research questions:

· What are the motivations for IPF from the perspective of perpetrators?

· What methods are used in perpetrating IPF?

· Are there risk factors associated with the perpetration of IPF at the individual, interpersonal, sociocultural, and structural level?

· What are the institutional responses to IPF from the perspective of the police?

My research will fill important knowledge gaps in the IPF literature. It will also raise awareness among policymakers and stakeholders to develop measures to mitigate partner femicide in Ghana. Moreover, it will not only provide a broader perspective and understanding of IPF in Ghana but serve as an impetus for similar research in other sub-Saharan African countries. Additionally, conducting this research within the African context will provide a comparative viewpoint that is necessary for homicide scholars in formulating a cross cultural theory of lethal violence against women.

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