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  • appeal
  • 1959-01-19
  • GLR 21-23
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Divorce?-Cruelty?-Medical evidence not indispensable.


The petitioning wife (Mary Manu), a University graduate, sought the dissolution of her marriage on the ground of cruelty by the respondent husband (Erasmus Moses Anini Manu). The wife gave evidence of the husband?'s abusive and threatening language, and his molestation of her at the College where she was living. She further gave evidence that he had struck her ?"on a few occasions?" and that she became nervous, could not sleep and lost weight. She said, ?"I feel that if the marriage continued I should be living in constant fear for my health.?" She never had to consult any doctor about her health as a result of respondent?'s behaviour, and no medical evidence was called. Tow witnesses corroborated respondent?'s violent behaviour outside petitioner?'s premises, and his asserting that she was a prostitute. Letters from respondent charging her with promiscuity were put in.The trial-judge (Manyo-Plange J.) dismissing the petition, held that the mutual desire of the parties for a dissolution made strict proof essential. The couple lived in a medical circle; with many doctors accessible to them. ?"If the respondent?'s conduct had such effect upon her as to give her reasonable apprehension of danger to her health, I am sure there would have been ample evidence of this forthcoming.?" The respondent?'s conduct was ?"simply offensive.?"Appeal by petioner (Civ. App. No. 57/58).


Van Lare Ag. C.J. delivered the judgment of the Court:

This is an appeal from the judgment of Manyo-Plange J. dismissing the petition of a wife (the appellant) for dissolution of her marriage.

The grounds upon which dissolution was claimed were that the cumulative effect of respondent?'s cruel acts towards her had caused serious injury to ?"her balance?". The acts complained of, as the result of which she stated she was compelled to leave the matrimonial home, were that the respondent frequently and without cause charged her with adultery, called her a prostitute and a loose woman, and struck her on some occasions, one occasion leaving her with a bad bruise on the face. As a result, she found herself to be in a state of nervousness, and she suffered from sleeplessness and loss of weight.

Furthermore, after she had left the matrimonial home because (as she said) she was living in constant fear for her health, the respondent often pursued her to an educational institution where she was living and teaching, and there molested and assaulted her. On three occasions a night watchman and one of the masters of the school were attracted, by the noise of the respondent?'s shouting and banging on the door, to visit the petitioner?'s living quarters to afford her protection.

Some of the respondent?'s letters to the petitioner were put in evidence, and completely corroborate the evidence as to his conduct given by the petitioner. These letters contain charges of general promiscuity on the part of the petitioner with all and sundry. They also contain threats of violence, one being couched in the following terms: ?"You shall compel me to act in such a way that retaliation shall be impossible.?" He had previously written, ?" You know me already, and I do not threaten in vain.?"

The petitioner is a University graduate, and must be a person of considerable culture and intelligence. In our opinion, conduct of the kind complained of (and not denied by evidence) would be most likely to produce upon her health the very effect which she described, and to put her in constant apprehension of physical violence.

We are also of the opinion that such conduct as she described, having regard to her class and standing, amounted to intolerable mental cruelty. We think that the absence of medical evidence of physical injury in no way detracts from the petitioner?'s right to be relieved by a decree of the Court for the dissolution of her marriage. [p.23]

It appears that the only reason why the learned Judge dismissed the appellant?'s petition was the absence of medical evidence as to actual physical injury. We think, therefore, that there is merit in the submission of Counsel in his arguments before us that the questions of mental cruelty, and reasonable apprehension of injury to health, were not considered by the Judge.


<P>In the circumstances, the appeal is allowed.&nbsp; The judgment appealed from is set aside, except as to the order for costs.&nbsp; It is adjudged that the appellant is entitl

Plaintiff / Appellant

Victor Owusu

Defendant / Respondent

Respondent did not appear and was not represented


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