Date of Graduation

Winter 12-14-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Brandi Lawless

Second Advisor

Brian Dowd-Uribe


On July 17, 1980, Ghana became a signatory to CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) under the United Nations in order to combat all forms of violence, discrimination and human rights violations that harm the security, freedom, privacy, and dignity of every woman. The Domestic Violence Act (732) stemmed from CEDAW in order to add on more layers of legal protection for victims of domestic violence and to penalize all acts according the bill’s definition and the different forms of domestic violence. Although there are stricter laws to punish any acts of violence inflicted upon a woman, there are still existing cultural factors that contribute to the high number of domestic violence cases throughout Ghana. The culture of patriarchy establishes the husband and father as head of the household, while the wife is submissive to her husband’s needs and authority. But oftentimes, this concept has also led spouses to believe that they have the right to act violently towards a partner as a means to follow his commands. “Facework”, a strategy used to save one’s reputation or image, has silenced many victims from speaking out and reporting their abuse in order to avoid shaming their partner or family name. Further, there are religious ideologies and beliefs that are often misused or misinterpreted in order to continue to stay in a marriage despite ongoing violence because it is “God’s will”. This thesis examines how domestic and international laws are utilized to prosecute the defendant during the legal proceedings and contributing factors as to why domestic violence continues to remain high. In this qualitative case study, interviews were conducted with legal experts from the Legal Aid Scheme in Ghana in order to gain a better understanding on how domestic laws are applied during the legal proceedings of a domestic violence matter. Further, participant observation was applied during the attorney and client interview to analyze what common themes surfaced as to why domestic violence is common throughout Ghana.