Ground-breaking new research informs Ghana’s national plan of action on domestic violence

17 August 2016

Nearly one in three women and one in five men are experiencing domestic violence in Ghana and young people are most at risk, says new research published today.

Couple dance on the beach. Panos / Alfredo D'Amato

The study, conducted by the Institute of Development Studies and Ghana Statistical Services and Associates, provides crucial new insights into attitudes, determinants and consequences of domestic violence in Ghana and draws lessons for policymakers nationally and globally. It was commissioned by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection of the Government of Ghana and will inform Ghana’s National Policy and Plan of Action on Domestic Violence.

Institute of Development’s Professor Patricia Justino, who directed the research, said: “This is one of the first nationally representative surveys of domestic violence anywhere in the world and a brave effort by the Government of Ghana to truly understand its drivers and consequences so that they can act to improve the lives of thousands of women, men and children impacted daily by domestic violence”.

Researchers found that 28 per cent of women and 20 percent of men in Ghana experienced domestic violence in the last 12 months. The most common form of domestic violence reported by women was economic violence (for example denial of food or money for household expenses, or denial of the right to work), followed by social violence, psychological violence, physical violence and sexual violence. The most common form of domestic violence experienced by men was psychological violence, followed by social violence, economic violence, physical violence and sexual violence.

Young people (aged 15 to19 years old) were found to be substantially more likely than other age groups to experience domestic violence. For instance, young women aged 15 to19 are up to four times more likely to experience any form of domestic violence than women aged 30 to 39 years old.

Overall, the determinants of domestic violence vary considerably among types of violence, emphasising the need for domestic violence legislation in Ghana to continue to distinguish between different forms of violence. Only young age, exposure to domestic violence as a child and high levels of violence in the community were common determinants of domestic violence across all types.

The study, funded by the UK Department for International Development, confirmed assumptions that domestic violence has adverse consequences on daily life in terms of ability to work, go to school or do domestic work, ability to concentrate on daily activities, levels of confidence and feelings of living in fear. The effects were greater for women than for men, and for physical violence than for other types of violence. Qualitative data further highlighted how domestic violence experienced in the home was overwhelmingly felt to have both short- and long-term impacts on children’s health, education outcome, economic and social well-being.

Policy recommendations proposed in the research report include strengthening the legislative environment, improving social service support, awareness raising and sensitisation, and targeted interventions.

Image: Panos / Alfredo D'Amato