Oregon Review of International Law
Many states have recognized that minority groups require accommodation to protect them from domination by the majority. Some states have responded by implementing accommodationist policies that cede jurisdiction over certain matters, such as family law, to the minority group. Many multicultural theorists have embraced accommodation as the best way to protect minority groups from oppression by the state. A number of feminists, however, have raised concerns that these accommodationist policies actually increase the vulnerability of women within those accommodated minority communities. In her book Multicultural Jurisdictions, Ayelet Shachar has made a valuable contribution to the theoretical debates surrounding state accommodation of multiculturalism. Shachar's theory is grounded in the important insight that women have complex identities and multiple affiliations, including the state and the community. Because any theory is best evaluated as applied in specific cases, this Essay explores the application of Shachar's theory to the Ghanaian legal system. As a post-colonial plural legal system, Ghana provides a useful case study that includes both state accommodation in some areas of family law and uniform state laws in other areas of family law. Although only one example, Ghana has attempted to reconcile the needs of its ethnic communities to enjoy some level of self-regulation and the need of the state to protect the individual rights of all Ghanaians.
Johanna E. Bond, Pluralism in Ghana: The Perils and Promise of Parallel Law, 10 Or. R. Int'l L. 391 (2008).