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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Polygamy and patriarchy: an intimate look at marriage in Ghana through a human rights lens
Author:Bowan, Lorraine
Periodical:Contemporary Journal of African Studies (ISSN 0855-4412)
Geographic term:Ghana
legal pluralism
human rights
family law
marriage law
customary law
Abstract:This paper examines polygamous customary marriage in Ghana, West Africa, in the context of colonial policy and legislation, which established the current plural legal environment in which Ghanaians negotiate their marriages and the dissolution of marriages. The human rights polemic between universalist advocates of individual rights and cultural relativist advocates of communitarian rights is activated in order to assess the efficacy of applying human rights principles to provide redress in family law cases. In doing so, the global north-south contention that the human rights movement is merely Western moral imperialism is tested. The paper demonstrates the way in which the more limited protection of rights afforded to women under customary law has been strengthened by the domestication of human rights treaties in the current constitution and legislation of Ghana, and the explicit application of human rights principles by judges in the judicial process. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French [Journal abstract]