The Influence of Community Leaders on the Criminal Justice System of Gender-based Violence in West Africa: A Case Study of Nigeria and Ghana
Keywords:Gender-based violence, Nigeria, Ghana, formal justice, community criminal justice, community leaders
Gender-based violence (GBV) continues to be a global phenomenon. Though many African countries have taken legislative steps to criminalise various acts that constitute GBV, the effectiveness of which has been challenged and documented. Many victims/survivors seek informal communal justice that is appropriate and acceptable in their specific communities. This article examines community-based justice approaches in the criminal justice system of GBV crimes in West Africa, specifically in Nigeria and Ghana. While Nigeria is a purely patrilineal society, Ghana is a hybrid of both patrilineal and matrilineal societies. The article examines the influence of matrilineal culture on community justice regarding GBV crimes in Ghana. It examines the effectiveness of these approaches in identifying and punishing offenders as well as ensuring justice and closure for survivors as compared to formal justice in the prosecution of GBV offenders and the protection of survivors. The qualitative socio-legal method was adopted to conduct a desktop literature review as well as to collect fresh data by way of interviews. It was found that community-based justice is gaining popularity owing to several factors, including the slow process of formal justice dispensation, corruption and high rates of case attrition. Suggestions for reforms of the formal criminal justice system to gain a balance with the community systems of criminal justice in Nigeria and Ghana are made.
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© Published by the Department of Public, Constitutional and International Law, University of South Africa and Unisa Press.