Monday, June 21, 2010

Love vs. Football

I read in the Accra Daily Graphic that according to a survey done in UK the rates of "housewife" beating increases during the football Fifa World Cup. The reasons behind this conclusion were mostly based on the fact that males tend to go to more pubs/bars/restaurants with other male mates, drink and become more aggressive either due to a loss or a win of the favored team. The rage, anger ( or excitement) would influence males to become more involved in abusive behaviour toward their spouses all due to elevated alcohol levels.

The article continued to say that the wife beating is not only limited to "bar drinking" males.... but also in households where the spouse( the males usually) decides to watch the football match at home. In this case the fight over the remote provokes abusive behaviour since men want to watch football and women not so much.

Of course this does not mean that all males that watch football are to beat their wives when they get home after watching a football match but the chances of becoming involved in a "physical" fight is so much higher within males that have already shown "abusive" behaviour previously due to differentiating reasons.

And why am I writing this on my blog? Although the study was done in UK I still believe that this trend could show up in Ghana. After all.... the survey was a highlight of the Daily Graphic newspaper. This matter is much complicated though and here is why:

A related subject to this topic is that I have met a few women in Accra that have children with no father around. Yaw ( the lady that is in charge of the chores in Papa Jacob's house) is a single mother raising Jessica ( her little girl who also lives within papa jacob's care) on her own.

Another lady raising a child on her is the sister of Aunty Glades (Jess's Ghanaian mother). There is also Mercy who is a single mother, the lady that sew me the dress for the wedding on saturday.

Here is Mercy's story:

When Mercy got married she moved in with her mother in law and from the very beginning of her stay in her new home she was treated more or less as a servant. She went on to say that whenever the husband would come home from work, the mother would interfere with their time together, either call her to do some chores or call the husband to perform certain tasks for her and they never spend quality time together. The end result: Mercy became frustrated with her mother in law and after feeling sorry and helpless ( and crying hours and hours each day) for a few years she decided to leave her husband and her mother in law, at this point she also had given birth to a baby girl, not that it increases anyone's sympathy for her.

Now she is working as a seamstress, living in a house right next to her shop. She went on to say that she no longer is respected by "everyone" due to the decision that she made.

Issac, the boy that comes to iron Papa Jacob's shirts every Sunday has also a similar story. Papa Jacob informed that Issac's father is from Togo( neighbour country) and her mother is from Ghana. Issac has four siblings whom live in Togo, but him along with his Mom were brought to Accra by the father and left to live with one of the uncles of the family. He has another wife in Togo.

At this point, I'd like to point out that maybe these cases, both Mercy's and Issac's could be of the extreme in Accra. I honestly don't know. I don't know if this happens often here in Ghana or if these are unfortunate circumstances. But I do know one thing. Women that are separated here never apply for divorce. It just does not happen. The word "divorce" is just a word never an action to be under taken.

And are things any better at home? In Canada, the divorce rate is 50% which never fails to amaze me, this rate is assumed by me to be much lower in Ghana. But I think it is safe to say that women in Canada do not experience the same cultural and religious constraints as women do here and this could be a characteristic of "western development", surely women rights are much more in practice in Canada. We have about 40 women in the Canadian Parliament out of 308.

It is a privilege to sit in my position unable to even remotely imagine what it is like to be in Mercy's shoes. What must it really be like to have a child that my mother in law nor my husband value? ( because if a child has a value so should her mother and don't you have to love the mother of your children to love your child). How much did Mercy change by moving out and noticing her own light? If she can't even get a divorce, will a man ever come to love her... we all need love! What about her daughter? Is she to suffer cultural let downs because she has no father living in her home?

I am going to skip over the roles that religion, personal motivation, family upbringing, and media play that cause one to react differently to various conditions, because I am if anyone traces back the root causes of women's issues, all of the above play crucial roles.

So I would like to conclude with some solution.... because what good does talking about problems really do?

1. let's be good to one another ! Women standing up for women. Mothers understanding daughters and daughters raising men and women that will make this world better ( cheesy, general but not followed by everyone).

2. Emphasis on my 1st point: let's bring up our children so that they say no racism, sexism.... etc etc.

3. Take advantage of the fact that we live in a developed country and spread the word of equality in any big or small way possible.

& here is some John Mayer's lyrics( I think it's a beautiful song):

Daughters- John Mayer:

Boys, you can break
You'll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without the warmth from
A womans good, good heart

On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and the weight of her world

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too


  1. Very interesting post, Kate! I agree that there's a vast difference between western culture and the one you're experiencing right now (so much social stigma and what not). We do really need to be more grateful for what we have and make the most of it.
    Great song btw! :D

  2. The sad reality is that women tend to oppress other women. Instead of showing some empathy, they turn their "ugly" sides onto one another. What are the root causes of this? Could it be jealous? The strive to please other men or gain the interest of other men?
    The fact of the matter is that this not only happens in Ghana but all around the world- yes, even the western world (perhaps in varying levels).
    If we support one another - if Mercy's female neighbours/relatives support her - it will be enough. The world would take on a different approach towards women because women themselves force the world to look them in a different eye.
    Don't get me wrong. I am in no way suggesting that it a men-versus-women battle. On the contrary, I believe that we need to stop comparing ourselves to one another and start supporting each other instead.
    It is not that women should have the same exact rights as men but that women should have equal rights-rights that suits them the most. Sometimes these rights may seem higher then the rights of men-and sometimes lower. But we need to focus on what women NEED - regardless of what men have - and base the rights of women to fulfill their own needs. (i.e. change in focus of having males as a standard)

    Thank you for posting this, Kate. We should be grateful to be living in a country where we are able to fight for our rights (at the very least).

  3. I really enjoyed reading this and I read some parts of it a few times just to be able to fully grasp it. I also like Homaira's comment there about how women should take it upon themselves to make a difference in each others' lives and the world hopefully will join in from there.

  4. I also really liked this post Kate! And Homaira, I agree that women should be supporting each other. I see similar situations in Indian culture, where the mother-in-law thinks it's acceptable to oppress he daughter-in-law and treat her like a "servant" as Kate put it. I've often questioned why those mother-in-laws never put themselves in the position and wonder how they would feel...

    P.S. Kate, I was reading the post, I had that song stuck in my head. I guess it reminded me of that too! I thought it was kinda funny when I got to the end!

  5. Thank you all for your comments.

    And Meera you brought up a really good point. I even know Iranian families living in Canada that are dealing with the same problem. Mothers expecting their sons to marry someone they have chosen and if the reverse is to happen(son choosing his future wife) then the bride of the family is under-valued.

    And we need to acknowledge the fact that these values and behaviours are not only in practice in India or Iran ( or many more Asian and eastern European countries) but they are in full practice in Canada ....and ESPECIALLY Canada because Canada is quite tolerant of differentiating bliefs, cultures and religions. When people migrate outside of their original country they bring these values with them. And I find that people from our generation are going under s much pressure trying to adjust(please) both entities, one being parents whom think like the "old times" and the other entity being the "western" society that we live in.

    How are we to draw the line between listening to parents, respecting tradition and doing what we believe is right even though it may not match the values and beliefs of our families?

    I guess I'm getting a little bit off topic but when it comes to mother-in-laws choosing the future wife of their sons I can only come to one conclusion:

    "There are some family traditions that I don't want my children to carry on"
    - Lorna Luft