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Ghana: Priest, 63, marries 12-year-old girl; images of wedding ceremony spark outrage


Mangalore Today News Network/News18

Ghana, April 04, 2024: A 63-year-old priest’s marriage to a 12-year-old girl, in a traditional ceremony in Ghana, has caused an uproar in the Western African country.

Spiritual figure Nuumo Borketey Laweh Tsuru — who is a “traditional high priest” and wields significant authority in the Nungua indigenous community — wed the underage girl in the capital Accra on Saturday.

 

Ghana


The BBC reported that members of this community in the Nungua town are part of the Ga people, who live along the south-eastern coast of the African country. A local news outlet said that the girl is expected to undergo a second ceremony focused on purification to prepare her for her role as the wife of the priest, “including bearing children.”

Images of the wedding ceremony, which was attended by dozens of community members, showed the young girl in a white dress. The event took place despite the legal minimum age to get married in Ghana being 18. The photos and video circulating online, triggered a public outcry and critics called for the local authorities to dissolve the marriage.

On Monday, police said they had identified and tracked down the young bride and that she would be under their protection amid the probe of the marriage. After the row erupted, Ghana‘s Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs Minister said the child bride who was married to the priest was 15 and not 12.

“My latest information, which you obviously have, is that she is almost 16…July somewhere she will be 16,” Minister Stephen Asamoah Boateng said in an interview with local radio station Citi FM on Tuesday. Boateng said that although the girl was older than initially reported, she was still a minor and his ministry would work with other agencies to protect her rights.

The west African nation has two million unions in which the wife was a child bride at the time of the marriage, according to the UN’s children’s agency (Unicef). Over nine out of 10, married girls are not attending school. One recent study, cited by BBC, showed one in five young Ghanaian women aged between 20 and 24 years were married before the age of 18.


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