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NewsWhat does Ghana's law say about child marriage?

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What does Ghana’s law say about child marriage?

Following the report of the marriage between the Gborbu Wulormo of Nungua and a 12-year-old bride, there have been widespread calls for legal action to be taken.

Ghana has strict laws against child marriages, and both governments and NGOs have worked to eradicate the practice.

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The focus of these calls has been on the arrest of the 63-year-old husband and a clear declaration that the marriage is invalid. But what do Ghana’s laws say about child marriage?

This article examines the relevant sections of the Children’s Act 1998, which was amended in 2016.

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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.

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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.

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.

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