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GH¢500 fine, year in jail or both: What the law says about child marriage

Parliament passed the Childrens Act in 1998 and amended portions in 2016

Tue, 2 Apr 2024 Source:

Since the marriage between the Gborbu Wulormo of Nungua and a 12-year-old bride was reported, many have called for the law to take its course.

It is widely known that there are strict laws against child marriages and that governments, along with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), have undertaken projects to eradicate the practice over the years.

The calls for a remedy have largely been for the arrest of the 63-year-old husband and an explicit declaration that the purported marriage is of no effect.

But what do the laws of Ghana say about child marriage? This piece explores the relevant sections of the Children's Act 1998, which was subsequently amended in 2016.

The original act sets out in Section One by defining who a child is: "Section 1. Definition of child. For purposes of this Act, a child is a person below the age of eighteen years," it reads.

Two main sections, 14 and 15, deal with the issue of children entering marital relations. They are produced below in full.

Section 14: Right to refuse betrothal and marriage.

(1) No person shall force a child:

(a) to be betrothed;

(b) to be the subject of a dowry transaction; or

(c) to be married.

(2) The minimum age of marriage of whatever kind shall be eighteen years.

Section 15: Penalty for contravention. Any person who contravenes a provision of this Sub-Part commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding 5 million cedis (500 Ghana Cedis) or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or to both.



The traditional marriage of the 63-year-old Nuumo Borketey Laweh XXXIII to a 12-year-old girl, Naa Okromo, triggered massive public outrage with calls for the arrest of the Overlord of the Ga-Dangme States.

The Gborbu Wulormo received fierce criticism after the news broke on social media of his marriage.

Despite these calls, the authorities justified their decision to marry the 12-year-old girl to the Wulormo and explained that it was part of their custom and tradition.

The traditional authority told that the ceremony was to ward off other men and that the girl was a stool wife.

The laws of Ghana do not allow the marriage of a person under the age of 18.