Ghana’s sexual offence laws are in the Criminal Code 1960 (CC) as amended. The Evidence Act 1975 (EA) contains the rules of evidence which apply to sexual assault offences.
Very few elements of the sexual offences provisions in the CC meet good practice and human rights standards. For example, the CC criminalises consensual same-sex sexual activity as ‘unnatural carnal knowledge’ and does so in the same provision as the offence of bestiality. Laws that criminalise consensual same-sex sexual activity should be repealed and all non- consensual sexual acts, including anal ‘rape’, should be included in the general sexual assault provisions, such as ‘rape’ and ‘sexual assault’, as well as in child sexual offences. All of these crimes should be gender-neutral.
In relation to the sexual assault provisions, ‘rape’ is limited to penile penetration of a vagina, and there is only one child sexual assault offence with no close-in-age exception or defence to child sexual assaults. Close-in-age defences are necessary for good practice sexual offences laws. They avoid criminalising young people and children who engage in consensual sexual activity with their peers. The legislation also criminalises sexual intercourse with a woman who has an intellectual disability regardless of capacity to give free consent, using the derogatory terms ‘imbecile’ and ‘idiot’.
Ghana is a state party to relevant international and regional human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is also a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).
Read more about the criminalisation of LGBT people in Ghana.
The full assessment of Ghana is also available here.