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Year: 2014 Type: Book Chapter Language: English

Feminist activists have looked to the law and to law reform as a key instrument for advancing women’s rights because of the broad reach of the law and its ability to produce social change, especially for less powerful and marginalised groups in society who have used legal reform to compensate for their lack of power (Lobel 2007). But as "while the formal rules can be changed overnight, the informal norms [i.e. "norms of behaviour, conventions and codes of conduct"] change only gradually." This is significant in contexts such as Ghana’s where the debates and positions around the passage of the Domestic Violence Law (Act 372 of 2007 ) brought out deeply held beliefs about ‘proper’ gender roles and men’s super-ordination over women in all social matters, including the sexual, and their presumed ‘right’ to discipline women and girls.

Thus the social change envisaged through the implementation of the law is likely to face considerable resistance and opposition from many sources and demands commitment and the necessary political will to overcome. Above all, the presence of strong institutions equipped with the necessary human and logistical resources would be required to confront entrenched systems of inequality and impunity. The chapter focuses therefore on the institutional context in Ghana including families and communities, courts and other adjudicative tribunals, the police, governmental departments charged with ensuring social welfare, hospitals and health institutions and the media, to assess the prospects for the effective implementation of the law.

Resource is unavailable online, but can be viewed at the British Library of Development Studies in Brighton,