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Culture and Nondisclosure of Child Sexual Abuse in Ghana: A Theoretical and Empirical Exploration


  • This research was made possible with financial support from the Gates Cambridge Trust; St. Edmund's College; and the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. An earlier version of this article was presented at the First International Conference on Child Sexual Abuse in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa, September 24–26, 2007. The author is grateful to Adjoa Appiah, Cynthia G. Bowman, Adam Danquah, David P. Farrington, Zachary A. Lomo, and the anonymous reviewers at Law & Social Inquiry for their insightful comments on earlier drafts of this article. This article is the winner of the 2008 Law & Social Inquiry Graduate Student Paper Competition.

Kofi E. Boakye is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. He can be reached at


The phenomenon of child sexual abuse has been widely acknowledged across many societies, including Ghana. Efforts to address this problem in Ghana have yielded limited success because this type of child abuse is severely underreported. This study explores the relevance of three cultural factors, namely, patriarchal nuances, (child) rape myth acceptance, and a “collective shame problem,” to the understanding of the problem of nondisclosure of child sexual abuse in Ghana. Evidence from an exploratory study provides support for the importance of these factors. The findings are discussed and the need for further research highlighted.