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4 Transnat'l Hum. Rts. Rev. 28 (2017)
Assessing Universalism and the Rhetoric of Development Assistance in Human Rights Research: Canadian-Ghanaian Human Rights Engagements

handle is hein.journals/tranhurrv4 and id is 28 raw text is: 




This article is a contribution to the question of how Canada engages human rights in Ghana and
Anglophone  sub-Saharan Africa in general. In order to critically assess human rights engagement
between Ghana and Canada, I situate the discussion within the broader global human rights milieu
to deconstruct the myriad ways in which power dynamics in the global arena shape human rights
practice and discourse. Using the rights concerns of women and minorities in Ghana as an entry
point, I discuss the interconnected nature of first- and second-generation rights and cultural
relativism in universal rights discourses. This discussion aims to propose a research agenda that
will approach human rights in a more progressively transformative fashion.

1A. IN 2007, AFTER   50 YEARS   OF  INDEPENDENCE from British Colonial Rule, Ghana

made history by passing into law a bill aimed at combatting domestic violence. Women's rights

leaders and activists jubilated. It had taken five years from the introduction of this Bill into

Parliament to its passage. Rights activists imagined that this would be a simple task - after all,

Ghana  has ratified international conventions on women's rights and is hailed as a progressive

country, as far as human rights and democracy are concerned in Africa. They had no idea that they

would face a kind of opposition that was unprecedented in Ghana's history. Those that opposed

the bill claimed that the demands of the women's movement were not cultural or, rather, that the

women's  movement was borrowing uncritically from western feminism. Activists responded that

this was ridiculous, that violence is not part of Ghanaian culture. Like other activists, Adwoa, one

of the participants in the interviews I conducted in Ghana has often critically engaged the question

of Ghanaian culture.

       Which Culture? The one that allows men to wear suits and attend school while justifying
       obnoxious practices against women in the villages? That came from the British; let them

* Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, York University, Toronto, Canada; PhD (Queen's University,
Kingston, Canada; email: bawa@yorku.ca.

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