By Asante, R.K.O. and Hammond, E. K. 2008

Domestic violence is increasingly assuming epidemic proportions in Ghana. No day passes without the mass media reporting serious violence offences within families and households. Victims were persons all of ages ranging babies, infants, children and the elderly. The most affected are females. Both males and females are perpetrators but the males are in the majority. In order to better understand this undesirable phenomenon in our society, there is the need to undertake a structured study these reports.

Purpose of study
The purpose of this study was to review reported cases of violence to characterise the problem of domestic violence for further research. This will help develop effective intervention to curb the menace.

One hundred and twenty seven (127) violence-related reports on the internet (Ghanaweb) were reviewed. First, all headlines on domestic violence related issues were selected. These articles were then read to ensure they dealt with violence cases that impact negatively on the health of individuals. The articles covered the months of July, August, September, October, November and December, 2007. The information given in the reports were then categorised under the following headings: nature of violence, gender of offender, age of offender, town of incidence, occupation of victim, occupation of offender, gender of victim, age of victim, weapon used for violence, damage caused, and relationship of offender to victim. They were then entered into SPSS and analysed.

Results showed that the incidence of defilement and rape was highest. Over 90% of the offenders were males whether as a group or individually. Most of the offenders were between the ages of 20 and 34. Domestic violence was perpetuated in all regions of Ghana. Most of the victims were females and students. The largest groups of perpetrators were artisans and farmers. Interestingly, most of the victims were adolescents and young adults in their twenties. The most common violent acts were rape and defilement. More than half of the victims died. The perpetrators were relatives, neighbours or acquaintances of their victims.

Domestic violence as reported and encountered in Ghana has several features that make them amenable to preventive measures and public health interventions of proven effectiveness.

Further research on this topic should be multisectorial and multi-disciplinary in view of the many agencies and expertise needed to address the problem.