Five female medical doctors have dragged the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel Limited and its General Manager to the Human Rights Court for discrimination.
According to the applicants, on February 6, 2015, they had gone to the hotel to celebrate the birthday of one of their colleagues but they were turned away because they did not have male escorts.
The applicants — Dr Katherine Attoh, Dr Emmanuella Amoako, Dr Abiba Mustapha Saeed, Dr Rushije Esi Dela Hiadzi and Dr Najat Mohammed — are praying the court to declare that the conduct of the respondents in implementing a policy of denying access to the hotel’s bar to women without male escorts is unconstitutional, unlawful or illegal and constitutes a violation of their fundamental human rights.
The first and second respondents are Movenpick Ambassador Hotel Limited and Mr Hauser Axle, respectively.
The plaintiffs, through their lawyer, Professor Kenneth Agyeman Attafuah, are urging the court to declare that the conduct of the hotel’s bouncers on February 6, 2015 ruined their evening and caused each of them grave embarrassment, humiliation and emotional distress.
They are further praying the court to hold that the hotel’s policy of denying unescorted women access to its facility constitutes sexual or gender-based discrimination.
“A declaration that the respondents' policy of imposing on females, as an entry requirement to its bar, a condition of having male escorts constitutes an unconstitutional, unlawful and unjustifiable restriction on women's freedom of association,” they said.
They are also pleading for an order directed at the first and the second respondents jointly and severally to pay to each applicant significant monetary compensation for the unjustifiable violation of each applicant's fundamental human rights to dignity and freedom from sexual or gender-based discrimination.
Additionally, the plaintiffs are seeking an order compelling the respondents, jointly and severally, to pay to the applicants costs, including solicitor’s costs, on full indemnity basis.
They are also praying the court for an order directed at the respondents to cease the contravention and desist from committing the same or similar contravention, namely, discriminating against a person because of his or her sex, contrary to law.
Furthermore, they are seeking an order directed at the respondents to refrain from requiring women, or any class or group of persons, to comply with a restriction, imposition, term or condition which is based on a prohibited ground of discrimination as a prerequisite for gaining access to any of the first respondent hotel's facilities and services customarily available to the public.
Affidavit in support
An affidavit in support of the application for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights deposed to on behalf of the plaintiffs by Dr Attoh said she and her colleagues had gone to the hotel at approximately 10:45 p.m. on February 6, 2015 to celebrate Dr Mohammed’s birthday.
However, the affidavit said, the bouncers turned them away, with the explanation that they were unaccompanied by men and that that act was against the hotel’s policy.
According to the applicants, they had graphic evidence to prove that the hotel had discriminated against them due to their gender.
They said they were all extremely upset, felt humiliated, embarrassed, denigrated and demeaned as women because they were denied entry into the hotel’s bar, which was “customarily available to the public, simply on account of our being females without male escorts”.
That action, according to the plaintiffs, constituted sexual or gender-based discrimination, contrary to articles 12 and 17 of the Constitution of Ghana (1992).