Chapter 13. “I cannot be blamed for my own assault”

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Much research on gender-based violence, especially sexual assault, indicate that women are often blamed for their predicament (Ehrlich 2002; Clark 1998). Prominent among the reasons given is ‘indecent dressing’ – which lures ‘innocent’ men to commit such crimes. Context therefore plays a major role in who is blamed. To contribute to this discussion, I discuss the role of context in apportioning blame in the two cases of sexual assault on a Ghanaian female artiste (Mzbel). This is done through the analysis of linguistic data from media reports, readers and Mzbel herself. The analysis shows that people view these cases differently depending on their personal ideologies and the context within which they operate. Whereas most of the text producers draw on the socio-cultural context to either directly or indirectly ‘justify’ the actions of the perpetrators, others draw on the legal to condemn the crimes.


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