20 February 2008

Ghana: Women's Rights And Marriage

It is amazing that women, who are able to speak right through the hearts of people, become victims of domestic violence more than any other group of people in the world.

Though women can be said to be the most influential gender in the world, little recognition is given to them. In the olden days, women were not given much recognition when it came to taking important decisions in society. All that they were labeled to be good at was the bearing of children. Though the knowledge of man, about women in the olden days, rendered women to be a little bit above inferior, biblical words do not picture it in that sense. The Bible, which is the whole idea of God, mentions that women are the companion of men, and not servants as many people think.

Women and society

Despite the notion that women were not created to be servants, most people refuse to accept that fact. However, a team eventually came to the rescue of women in the long run. The Beijing Conference, in September 1996, concerning the rights of women, changed the perceptions of many people about the role of women in society. This conference brought about a slogan which goes like this, "What men can do, women can also do, and do it even better". As a result of this, women are being given the respect they deserve and not being underrated anymore during social gatherings.

How surprising nowadays it is to see women involved in more incredible activities. Women are now supported to take more challenging positions in the world. It has always been the belief that men always have to be in charge, and also take the most challenging positions in our societies. There is nothing permanent; the only permanent thing in this world is change. Just like nothing is permanent in this world, leadership, which was meant for only men, has changed into an order where women can hold the same position. Women now hold prominent positions in the world. Liberia - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, India - Pratibha Patil, Chile - Michelle Bachelet and Philippines - Gloria Arroya, are all women of power and fame, appointed by their people to lead them.

In Ghana, many women are being appointed to hold significant positions in the government. Hon. Gloria Akuffo - Deputy Minister for Aviation, Hon. Shirley Ayokor Botchwey - Member of Parliament for the Weija constituency and Deputy Minister for Trade, Industry, PSD and PSI and Theodora Georgina Wood - Chief Justice. These have proven that women are able to execute their positions effectively, which tells why they still hold their positions. There is the need for us to remember the great legend of the Ashantis, Yaa Asantewa, the queen mother, who led her people to war to fight for their rights and freedom.

Women and marriage

It is sometimes quite surprising that a man, who loves his wife dearly, turns to make her a victim of domestic violence in their marital home, as the years go by. How love and attraction can easily fade away in a moment of time. A good number of times, violence in marriages crops up as a result of the other partner feeling the other is autocratic. When it happens this way, the gender who normally suffers the consequences is the woman, due to the fact that they are the weaker vessel.

Most times women become victims of violations in marriage, because of the pressures of keeping the marital home. Pressure can be in form of unemployment. In matrimonial homes where the head of the family is jobless, it brings a sort of pressure on the family. Things turn to be out of order, when the woman seems to be the one solving all the financial needs in the home. A responsible man in this case always feels useless, frustrated and thinks that the woman is trying to dominate him. Men often overreact towards the slightest provocation, in this instance and abuse women.

It is a known fact that anyone involved in drugs behaves awkwardly, even if the situation does not call for it. It is very suffocating on the part of women, when a husband or partner is involved in drugs and alcohol. The man becomes so violent that he acts out of place towards any trivial issue that crops up in the home. Sometimes, one begins to think if it is the same man she married or an imposter. Madam Ohene Aboagye, a nurse, revealed an ordeal she went through. According to her, her husband, who was very drunk at that instance, beat her severely when she was eating with him, all because she had eaten more meat more than him.

To most men, getting married to a woman means she becomes one's personal possession, and can be treated anyhow. It is very pathetic to see a man beating up mercilessly the woman he claims, he loves with all his heart. Where is the love if I may ask? Many men have the notion that the title MRS, given to a woman after marriage, does not really mean MY REAL SISTER but rather MY REGISTERED SLAVE. In a matrimonial home, where the head has this notion, the woman is not allowed to help take important decisions, concerning the entire family. The man is always in charge, and the woman, if truth be told, is treated as a slave leading to domestic violence in the home.

Every marriage or sexual union begins with an attraction of the two sexes. People in the early stages of are do not take care to study each other well, and usually rush into marriage or make covenants without due consideration. It is important to go through counseling, especially from the church, in order to give a good background to the marriage. In Ghana, many churches take members who want to get married through six months of counseling, before tying the knot between them. This helps prevent events which lead to domestic violence in the marriage. The Akan language has an old adage about marriage which interprets this way "Marriage is a long journey, and that if one want to go into marriage, one has to ask people already in it before engaging one's self". It is important to learn how to understand each other's behaviour, in order to prevent violence in the marriage.

In most marriages, love fades away gradually as the years go by; men become bored living with one woman, and having sex with her only, over a long period of years. Seeing her sometimes irritates him, especially when he has gotten a substitute to her. Men begin to maltreat women when they begin to feel uninterested in the marriage, and start having an affair.

For a woman to be stubborn is a normal phenomenon, however, some men refuse to tolerate that phenomenon. According Evans Obeng, he generally dislikes it when women are stubborn and seem to be trying to challenge whatever the man says. To him, when it looks like getting out of hand, the only alternative he has is to beat or slap her.

One might think that domestic violence is only rampant in Africa, and not developed continents like America. Domestic violence is sometimes even worse in the developed countries. Not long ago it was reported that a guy shot his girlfriend in the face. This was due to the reason that he suspected his girlfriend was cheating on him. Lucky for the girl, she did not die, but ended up having a deformity on her face.

Governments actions towards domestic violence against women?

It is necessary for every government in a country to provide laws, to serve as a sort of security for women, in order to protect their rights. In Ghana, and many parts of Africa, when a husband dies leaving behind his wife and children, it is believed that the woman is the cause of his death. On the other hand, if the wife dies the husband is not accused of anything.

Many societies in Ghana, as well as Africa, do not really give priority to women. Women are always considered mischievous and sometimes regarded as witches, especially when they are very old. Due to this relatives from the husband's side, force the widow to undergo all sorts of inhuman activities. In the long run they take from her all the property she has accumulated with her late husband, leaving her and the children penniless.

Government seeing the plight of widows in society added to the Constitution a law that will protect the rights of these women. PNDC LAW Article 111, talks about how properties are inherited when a husband dies intestate - That is not leaving a will behind. The law makes sure the woman and her children get the greater part of the inheritance, and the rest given to the man's family.

The government has also set up a unit in the police service called the Domestic Violence Victims Support Unit (DOVSU). Though this unit is meant to fight against any form of domestic violence, its initial purpose was only to fight injustices against women and children but was changed to not only fight injustice, but also to support the victims. Its former name was the Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU).

Women, due to this unit in the police service and the PNDC LAW 111, are always being educated on how to stand up for their rights, whenever the occasion calls for it.

Conclusion It is important to protect our women, since they hold the key to the success and fall of the nation, which is the reason why our beloved land is always referred to as our motherland.

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