Health News of 2014-03-04

Age for sexual consent should be 18 - Prof Sai tells Parliament

Population and sexual health expert, Professor F.T. Sai is advocating that Parliament harmonizes the existing law on the Children's Act that puts the minimum marriage age in Ghana at 18 years but allows girls to engage in consented sex at age 16.

According to him, consent to sex should be fixed at age 18 and marriage should be fixed at 18 years and above.

The amendment to the law, Prof. Sai told Joynews, Monday, is key to preventing forced marriage within the country.

Prof Sai noted that due to the Ghanaian custom of permitting parents to give away their children in marriage, there is the need for vigorous education in homes and communities in order to overcome forced marriage in the country.

The Population and sexual health expert is supporting campaigners against forced marriage with his proposal to amend the Children Act of 1998.

If the proposed amendment to the Act is successful, then having consented sex with a-16-year-old girl may land one into jail.

Campaigners against the current age of consent are convinced that changing to 18 years will be a positive start to tackle forced marriage, a common practice in parts of rural Ghana.

Speaking on the issue, Member of Parliament (MP) for Tarkwa Nsuaem, Eugenia Kusi, indicated that expressed consent of young girls, who find themselves in such forced marriages are usually not sought.

To her, teenagers lacked the mental capacity to make informed decision about their marriage partners.

Available statistics indicate that over 277,000 women in Ghana were forced into marriage in 2010 and the number is expected to hit almost 500,000 by 2030 if measures are not implemented to address the menace.