Women who kill their husbands: Mariticides in contemporary Ghana

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Homicide by wives against husbands is a largely unexplored subject in lethal violence research. The paucity of information on the phenomenon is particularly acute in the non-Western world where scholarly research is virtually nonexistent. The specific goal for this article, then, was to provide additional insights into the issue by investigating wife-to-husband killings that occurred in Ghana, a non-Western society, during 1990-2005. In line with the scant, extant literature, the results of the analysis demonstrate that victims were invariably slain at home. The motive for the crime was to punish a womanizing husband, a husband who had taken another wife, or one who was contemplating wedding another wife in this polygynous society. In other instances, the homicidal intent was to physically eliminate a husband to facilitate an amorous relationship between the assailant and her new lover. In several cases, husband-slayers killed a latent or predisposing victim (e.g. sleeping or ill) via burning, slashing with a machete or food poisoning. The implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-536
Number of pages11
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Ghana
  • Homicide
  • Mariticide
  • Murder
  • Spousal homicide
  • Spousal-killings


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