BRIDE PRICE IN GHANA: AN ASSESSMENT OF ITS SOCIAL REPRESENTATIONS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES IN NORTHERN GHANA

J. A. K. Bawa

Abstract


Demand for high bride prices for marriage has been cited for the increasing abuses women face in Ghana. In 2014 alone, the DOVVSU of the Ghana Police Service received 17,655 cases of gender based violence, prompting calls from gender and human right activists for its abolition (DOVVSU, 2014, Actionaiad, Ghana, 2012). This paper assessed the social representation of bride price in selected communities in northern Ghana regarding its link to women’s vulnerability. 360 respondents made up of male and females were sampled from the three northern regions for interviews. Focus group discussions were also done while data from key institutions was elicited through the use of questionnaires. The findings did not reveal any direct link between high pride and women`s vulnerability but revealed that due to economic challenges, men find it difficult to pay the bride price, which makes them lose face and authority over their wives. The abuses women face in the study are mainly attributable to women`s increased economic power through access to economic opportunities, which has altered the gendered role of men`s sole provision of economic needs of the family and thus reduced male power over their wives. In reaction, some men resort to violence as an outlet of their frustration. The paper recommends alternative income generation opportunities for men in the study area, a reduction of bride price to make it easier for men to marry and sensitisation on the recognition by males of increasing co-dependency of couples.  
Key words: Bride price, Women, Gender Based Violence, Vulnerability, Northern Ghana

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