Patricides and Step-Patricides in Ghana: Victims, Offenders, and Offense Characteristics
There is a paucity of empirical research on patricide in Africa and many non-Western societies. To help fill this scholarly vacuum and contribute to the literature on patricide, the current article presents the results of an analysis of 18 cases of patricide and step-patricide that occurred in Ghana during 1990–2016. Given the exploratory nature of the study, no hypotheses were constructed or tested. Findings indicate that patricide is a rare crime, that sons were disproportionately more likely than daughters to kill their fathers, and that adult children were more likely than adolescent and pre-pubertal children to commit patricide. The results further show that a significant number of the patricides were triggered by offender mental illness. The predominant circumstance, however, was conflict between son and father over a myriad of issues. Three of the 18 patricides were influenced by the perpetrators’ beliefs that their fathers were maleficent witches who had bewitched them. Also, patricide offenses were typically spontaneous rather than premeditated. A recommendation is provided for continued research on patricide in Ghana and other non-Western societies to shed light on an empirically-neglected but vital topic.
KeywordsPatricide Parricide Matricide Homicide Ghana
The author wishes to acknowledge the extremely helpful comments received from Dr. Carmen M. White, Professor of Anthropology at Central Michigan, on early drafts of the manuscript. The author also expresses his sincere gratitude to the two anonymous reviewers of Journal of Family Violence for the valuable suggestions which helped to improve the overall quality of the article.
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