Bridewealth Payment And Male-Perpetrated Intimate Partner Violence In Ghana

ABSTRACT Physical aggression, psychological mistreatment and sexual abuse against women in intimate unions are public health concerns globally. They constitute infringements on human rights, and are a huge economic burden to nations. Research suggests that individual level factors and women’s subordinate position to men predispose them to male-perpetrated intimate partner violence (IPV). In sub-Saharan Africa where marriages are near universal, little is known about the cultural context within which marriages are arranged and the implications for IPV. Of particular interest, and central to marriage in the sub-region, is bridewealth payment which legitimizes unions and maintains kinship ties. Over time, bridewealth payment has been misconstrued by some to mean that the woman has been bought and is the property of the man. Although this cultural practice is widespread, and has persisted over time, there is little empirical data on the relationship between various aspects of bridewealth payment and IPV. This study examined how bridewealth payment, specifically, whether or not bridewealth has been negotiated and completeness of bridewealth payment, explain men’s attitudes toward wifebeating and actual perpetration of physical violence against women. Using a mixed-methods approach, the study relies on a nationally representative dataset, 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (survey sample size = 1,893 men), and a population-based study conducted in selected communities in the Eastern Region of Ghana, Bridewealth Payment and Normative Constraints on Women’s Lives in Ghana (survey sample size = 579 men and 16 key informant in-depth interviews). The 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey examined men’s attitudes toward wife-beating while the Bridewealth Payment and Normative Constraints on Women’s Lives in Ghana Study examined men’s self-reported actual perpetration of abuse. The results showed that both men’s approval of wife-beating and self-reported actual perpetration of abuse against female partners were prevalent. While about one in ten men approved of wifebeating, nearly one in five men indicated ever physically abusing their current partners. Bridewealth payment was widespread. A large proportion of men indicated that bridewealth had been negotiated in their current union. With regard to completeness of payment, more than half of the men in both samples reported that bridewealth has been fully paid in their current union. The study showed that the implications of bridewealth payment on male-perpetrated intimate partner violence are complex. Completeness of bridewealth payment did not significantly predict men’s approval of wife-beating, but completeness of bridewealth payment was significantly associated with actual perpetration of abuse. Contrary to previous assertion, men were more likely to have ever beaten their wives when bridewealth has not been paid compared to when bridewealth has been fully paid. Religious affiliation, level of education, type of earning, and ethnicity were significant predictors of men’s attitudes toward wife-beating. The predictors of actual perpetration of abuse by men were religious affiliation, age, duration of marriage, number of children ever born, observing violence as a child, and ethnicity. Key informant interviews also showed that the implications of bridewealth payment on men’s use of violence in intimate unions are multifaceted. All key informants suggested that bridewealth payment does not give the husband authority to use violence against his wife in the union. Bridewealth payment places the man in a position of responsibility, ensuring that his wife and family are safe from harm. Bridewealth is exchanged to honour all stakeholders involved. The social support and control developed when bridewealth is exchanged potentially prevent men from being violent. Rather, the narratives showed that non-payment and partial bridewealth payment are related to conflict and abuse. Couples may argue on issues regarding legitimizing their unions and these are pointers of conflicts. The relative authority of the man may also be challenged with incomplete bridewealth payment, and this has implications on “wounded masculinities”, and hence the use and approval of violence. Further, the narratives showed that when bridewealth is paid the man may reprimand his partner or use violence if the woman does not perform certain duties. Therefore, the study concludes that the practice of bridewealth has vital implications for maleperpetrated IPV. The very practical consequences this important cultural custom has for women’s health and wellbeing cannot be overemphasized. It is necessary to focus on context, bearing in mind cultural norms, in the discourse of IPV and in developing interventions in subSaharan Africa if research seeks to reduce violence against women and reduce the health and economic burden of this menace.

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ESIME, C (2021). Bridewealth Payment And Male-Perpetrated Intimate Partner Violence In Ghana. Afribary. Retrieved from

MLA 8th

ESIME, CHARLOTTE "Bridewealth Payment And Male-Perpetrated Intimate Partner Violence In Ghana" Afribary. Afribary, 09 Apr. 2021, Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.


ESIME, CHARLOTTE . "Bridewealth Payment And Male-Perpetrated Intimate Partner Violence In Ghana". Afribary, Afribary, 09 Apr. 2021. Web. 19 Jul. 2024. < >.


ESIME, CHARLOTTE . "Bridewealth Payment And Male-Perpetrated Intimate Partner Violence In Ghana" Afribary (2021). Accessed July 19, 2024.