Mrs Gbedemah said this when she spoke on the “Property Rights of Spouses Bill” at a leadership workshop for executives of the Ghana National Association of Teachers-Ladies Society (GNAT-LAS) in the Volta Region in Ho.
She explained that the bill seeks to deal with the disposal of property in case of divorce or dissolution of marriage contracted under the ordinance, traditional or Mohammedan systems of marriage and in cohabitation over time.
It does not rpt not deal with disposing of property following the death of one of the spouses as provided under the Intestate Succession Law.
Mrs Gbedemah said the bill is also not meant to deal with the property rights between parents and children explaining that the Children’s Act 1998 (ACT 560) takes care of that and that the family tribunal was the forum for settling issues pertaining to child maintenance.
Mrs Gbedemah said women were in general bad at keeping records and this tended to work against them in case of disposing of property in divorce or when the marriage ceases to exist.
She said as housewives, trader, or working women, wives were instrumental to the successes of marriages but their contributions were hardly considered in disposing of property in case their marriages went awry.
Mrs Gbedemah said in many cases women spouses after the dissolution of marriages were left empty handed to suffer because the traditional system did not have the mechanism to secure their interest in the property acquired with their husbands.
She said in cases where such women went to court to claim their rights, their cases were determined based on the discretion of judges.
Mrs Gbedemah said the “Property Rights of Spouses Bill” therefore became necessary, describing it as “gender neutral” as it was crafted to benefit both spouses.
She said an important innovation in the Bill was that it protected the property rights of couples in co-habitation over a specified period of time.
Mrs Gbedemah explained that this provision did not mean that the Bill was about to introduce a new type of marriage in Ghana but to address a peculiar situation for the sake of justice and fairness.
The legally recognized marriages in Ghana were those contracted under the ordinance, properly contracted traditional marriages and the Mohammedan marriages.
Speaking on “Managing marriage problems” Ms Paatrice Zimmerin of Partners in Community Development (PACODEP), a local NGO, urged women to be honest about problems that arose in their marriages and discuss them with their husbands.
“Try to talk to your partner about it. Don’t keep it to yourself. If you don’t want or dare talk about it with your partner, go and talk to a friend, a relative or a counselor”, she said.
Ms Zimmerin said “talking cures, it helps our brains to learn to cope with the stressful things that are happening to us”.
She said research has shown that talking to other people has “a real healing effect. Most of the time a solution can be found”.
Ms Zimmerin said “only when your safety is at stake or the safety of your children you must think about ending the marriage”.