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3 Apr, 2024 15:30

Marriage of elder priest and minor sparks outrage in Ghana

Police in the West African nation say the incident is being investigated
Marriage of elder priest and minor sparks outrage in Ghana

Ghanaian authorities announced on Tuesday that they are offering protection to a young girl who was married off to a 63-year-old traditional priest, despite the minimum age for wedlock being 18.

The child bride, Naa Okromo, who local media earlier reported to be 12 years old, was wed to Nuumo Borketey Laweh Tsuru XXXIII at a traditional ceremony in Nungua, a neighborhood of the capital, Accra, last Friday.

Footage of the customary rite shared on social media sparked outrage, with the non-profit Girls Not Brides Ghana Partnership, a coalition of over 100 child rights organizations, describing it as a “worrying and disturbing incident.”

“Child marriage is a violation of human rights that robs young girls of their childhood and prospects, and we must work together to stop the said spiritual marriage of the 63-year Wulomo of Nungua to the 12-year-old,” the coalition said in a statement on Tuesday.

However, Ghanaian Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs Minister Stephen Asamoah Boateng told Citi FM that Naa Okromo is not 12 years old, as previously reported, but will turn 16 in July. Nevertheless, he noted that she is still a minor and that the state must protect her rights.

“Those who are calling for the arrest [of the priest] and all that, I will say hang on for a while. It's an option that is available, I would not close it because that is not my job,” he said in another interview with Joy FM.

The Ministry of the Interior will advise, and the Attorney General will advise, and I will give them the version I have heard. Then we arrive at the conclusion on what the next step is,” he added.

The office of the priest, known in the Ga ethnic traditional community as Gborbu Wulomo, has defended the ceremony, claiming it was a betrothal engagement and the bride is not expected to perform marital duties yet.

In a statement earlier on Tuesday, the Ghana Police Service said the girl and her mother were under their protection while an investigation was in progress.