Ghana Citizens Furious As 63-Year-Old Priest Marries 12-Year-Old Girl

A 63-year-old priest married a 12-year-old girl in West Africa's Ghana. The girl was chosen to be the priest's wife when she was six years old. In Ghana, the legal minimum age for marriage is 18.

Rudrani Gupta
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A 63-year-old priest married a 12-year-old girl in West Africa's Ghana. The girl was chosen to be the priest's wife when she was six years old. The priest, Nuumo Borketey Laweh Tsuru XXXIII, married the girl child in a customary ceremony conducted in Nungua, Krowor. However, the wedding has sparked an outrage. People from Ghana are criticising the marriage as illegal. However, the local community leaders have quashed the criticism by defending the marriage and its customs as a part of the tradition. 


As per the reports, a local news channel, Ablade, shared a video clip of the 'elaborate' wedding on the social media platform. In the video, the wedding was being witnessed by several people in the community. Moreover, the women of the community were teasing the child bride in the 'Ga' language by asking her to dress for her new husband. One of the customs of the wedding is advising the child bride to prepare for her new role as a wife by enhancing her 'sex appeal'. She is asked to wear the perfume that she received as a gift.

Social media criticism of child marriage

 The video received a lot of criticism from Ghanaians. One of the Ghanaians wrote on Facebook, "Customary wife??? Child marriage is criminalised in Ghana and no rite that violates a girl's rights to achieve her full potential should be celebrated.” While the other said, "There are so many things wrong with this country, and this is one of them!?? How is a 12-year-old becoming a wife in 2024?! Is this some silly joke?"

The defensive attitude of the leaders of Ghana

However, the local leaders of the community rejected the criticism and said that there is a lack of understanding about customs and traditions. The priest and the girl belong to the Nungua indigenous community. The leaders of that community have denounced the criticism saying that it "stems from ignorance." 

Nii Bortey Kofi Frankwa II, a prominent community leader said that the girl's marriage to the priest is "entirely based on tradition and custom." To defend the marriage further, he said that the girl began the rituals at the age of six and it didn't hinder her education. 


The Ghanaian government is still silent on the contentious marriage. However, according to a media report, police said that they have identified and tracked down the girl. She is currently under police protection along with her mother.   

In Ghana, the legal minimum age for marriage is 18. Even though child marriages have decreased over the last three decades, many communities still practice it. According to UNICEF, one in five girls aged 20-24 years are married before the age of 18. 

Why child marriage is a grave issue?

The issue of child marriage is grave because a child is burdened with the responsibilities of marriage at the age when they must be focussing on their personal growth. It becomes worse and even more painful when children are forced to have sex at a tender age. When the body is not ready or developed enough to indulge in intercourse, sex will cause pain and health issues. 

Just consider the case of the priest and the 12-year-old girl. The customs ask the child to prepare herself for sex. As per the custom, the role of a wife is to have a sex appeal to attract her husband. In such a scenario, it is clear that the girl will have to undergo the pain of having sex at an immature age. To make things clear, in Ghana, the legal age of sexual consent is 16. 

The fact that the girl was chosen as the bride of the priest at the age of six shows that society still considers marriage as the destiny of a woman. Why else would a six-year-old girl be considered a bride/future bride? Could it not be possible that the girl is against marriage? Even if she wants marriage, how can a six-year-old decide who is right for her? 


Even though one of the leaders said that the girl's studies were not hampered, does it justify the act of making her a bride and even a sex object at the age of 12? If education was being provided to the girl, why wasn't she aware of the laws and rights? Was the education meant for her empowerment or a mere tokenism? And will the education continue after the marriage?

Why do child marriages still happen in our society?

Child marriages have been banned in many countries. Laws, criminal codes and police action have tried to guard children from the trap of child marriage. But the importance of traditions always overpower the laws. The same has happened in the case of Ghana. The marriage, even though illegal, was not only witnessed by the community but also supported by the leaders. Priests are considered to be respectable people whom people follow blindly. And leaders too have the responsibility of preserving the rights of the people. But it is sad that people in power misuse their position and encourage unlawful activities. 

The only appreciable thing of the case is the criticism from the public. At least people are aware of laws and rights and are willing to oppose injustice. It is a ray of hope even though it is subdued and ignored by people in power. The voice of opposition must not die until it reverberates through the institutions.   

Views expressed are the author's own. 


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