Koiwah Koi-Larbi Ofosuapea (Fellow – Center For Constitutional Order)
Some One Hundred and Eight years ago, this day was born. The Soviet Russia showed the way and their women gained suffrage. The momentum was cemented in 1975 by the United Nations’ adoption of March 8, as the International Women’s Day. The world today recognizes that horizon. And we are called upon to accentuate the principles and values the day stands for: we say let every woman have her rights in full.
In our Republic, the Republic of Ghana, we shall remember this duty of our government. It is in our preamble to the Nation’s Constitution 1992. This duty reads:
“We the people of Ghana IN EXERCISE of our natural and inalienable right to establish a framework of government which shall secure for ourselves and posterity the blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity and prosperity….
DO HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT, AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION”
We have contracted our government to ensure our liberty. Create opportunity and equally share same. And above all, give us prosperity, not poverty.
Our only point is to state nakedly clearly that the State must comply with article 22 clause 2 of the 1992 Constitution on property rights of spouses. This provision reads:
“Parliament shall, as soon as practicable after the coming into force of this Constitution, enact legislation regulating the property rights of spouses.”
This is part of our Nation’s Bill of Rights. The Constitution came into force on January 7, 1993. We just celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the Constitution 1992. Government has introduced a Bill on this constitutional order but our Parliament has since gone into coma; asleep on the Bill.
If one reads the Supreme Court of Ghana cases like DR. OWUSU AFRIYIE AKOTO versus ADWOA ABREFI AKOTO, Civil Appeal No. J4/24/2010, then one will understand that sharp knife most women suffer in their throats by the injustices of those who supposed to love them and protect them. One quote in this case will do. The Court said:
“After carefully reading the record of proceedings and the trial judge’s summary of facts of the case, we form the impression that evidence portrays the Respondent as woman who has been short changed in a marriage that span about twenty three years, during which she gave her heart and soul and more….
It is my view that the evidence on record supports a conclusion that the appellant was fraudulent in his dealings with the Respondent regarding the properties ….”
Our courts, especially our Supreme Court, have done marvelous work in this area. But they can only do enough. The constitutional injunction is on our Parliament. Twenty – Five Years since 1993, January 7, and same is not practicable enough. We shall say to Parliament of Ghana just wake up from your deep slumber and pass that Bill into law now. Let our women have their full constitutional rights on property rights of spouses.