Matricide in Ghana: Victims, Offenders, and Offense Characteristics

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At present, scholarship on matricide across many regions of the non-Western world is lacking. For instance, in Ghana, despite the intermittent, yet recurrent, availability of media reports describing matricidal acts over the past quarter century, no existing study has systematically analyzed matricidal killings in the West African nation. To contribute to the literature and extend knowledge about matricide and other forms of lethal violence in Ghana, this article presents the results of an analysis of 21 matricidal acts that occurred in Ghana from 1990 to 2016. Issues studied include demographic characteristics of assailants and victims, modus operandi, temporal and spatial aspects, as well as the motives and circumstances surrounding the crime. The results show that sons were substantially more likely than daughters to kill their mothers, matricide offenders were more likely to suffer from serious psychiatric disorders, matricide offenses generally occurred in the victim’s home, and all cases of matricide were characterized by massive physical force and extreme violence. Matricide offenses in Ghana differed from matricides in Western nations in four important respects: (a) none of the 21 matricides was perpetrated with a firearm, (b) in none of the cases did the offender act with a co-offender (accomplice or accessory), (c) none of the matricide offenses was perpetrated by a juvenile or adolescent offender, and (d) suspicion that the mother-victim was a maleficent witch was an important trigger in matricide perpetration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1925-1946
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Ghana
  • homicide
  • matricide
  • parricide
  • patricide


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