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There cannot be betrothal if a child is below 18 years – Deputy AG

A Deputy Attorney-General, Diana Asonaba Dapaah, has explained that betrothal of any child below 18 years of age whether to a person or deity is not permissible in Ghana.

She explained that Ghanaian laws are very explicit on the age of a child and age of marriage.

She noted that although the country’s constitution encourages people to practice their customs, the same constitution has a caveat that bars people from engaging in customs that are dehumanising or injurious to the welfare of a child.

Appearing on JoyNews’ Newsfile TV programme today, Saturday, April 6, 2024, Mrs Dapaah said, “It is neither here nor there whether 12, whether 15 or 16 – of course, I’m mindful of Section 122 of Act 560 on the determination of the age of a child. It is key only for purposes of ensuring that Section 14 has not been breached and clearly, the argument being thrown out there whether, 12, 15 or 16 still does not meet the age criteria.”

In addition, she said, “Whether 12, 15 or 16, the law is clear if you look at section 14. And for me, I keep saying that this event is a good opportunity for us as Ghanaians to re-sensitise ourselves.”

Mrs Dapaah was reacting to the recent marriage ceremony that occurred between the Gborbu Wulomo Nuumo Borketey Laweh XXXIII to a 12-year-old child, Naa Okromo, at Nungua in Accra on March 30, 2024.

Following the ceremony, the 63-year-old priest, Gborbu Wulomo Nuumo Borketey Laweh XXXIII, has faced severe criticisms from the public, with many institutions, including the Gender Ministry, Ghana Psychological Association, and civil society organisations, condemning the act.

However, the office of the Gborbu Wulomo in a statement clarified that the 12-year-old girl was not married to the Wulomo but to the Gborbu deity.

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Sharing further perspective on the issue, Mrs Dapaah noted that irrespective of whether the girl, Naa Okromo, is currently 12 years old or is turning 16 years soon, the law strongly disapproves of her marriage to the 63-year-old priest.

Similarly, the GaDangme Council also clarified that the relationship between the Gborbu priest and the 12-year-old girl is simply a betrothal and not a marriage.

But for Mrs Dapaah, betrothal of a child below 18 years is still not an act the country’s constitution permits, citing Section 14 of Act 560, which clearly defines who a child is until he/she turns 18 years old.

“Even Section 1, defines a child within the context of Act 560 as 18 so whether 12, 15 or 16 and if we are evoking Section 14, why are we discussing even 12, 15 or 16? But of course, as part of the prosecutorial process on evidence, it is important to determine the age only for the purpose of ensuring that the child is 18 or not but 12, 15 or 16, I’m afraid still doesn’t cut it,” she stressed.


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