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Outrage Erupts: Ghanaian Priest, 63, Marries 12 year old CHILD Bride in Bizarre Ceremony

HomeTop NewsOutrage Erupts: Ghanaian Priest, 63, Marries 12 year old CHILD Bride in...

ACCRA, Ghana — A traditional wedding ceremony in a Ghanaian coastal town has sparked national outrage and condemnation after a 63-year-old local priest married a 12-year-old girl over the weekend.

The customary marriage rites between Nuumo Borketey Laweh Tsuru XXXIII and the child bride, who was chosen as his wife at age 6, took place on Saturday in Nungua, a town in the Krowor municipality. Footage from the elaborate ceremony shared on social media shows the young girl being instructed by older women to dress provocatively for her new husband.

While child marriage persists in some rural areas of Ghana, the legal marriage age is 18. The controversial union has drawn widespread criticism, with many Ghanaians expressing disgust that such an evident case of child exploitation could occur so openly in 2024.

“Customary wife? Child marriage is criminalized in Ghana, and no rite that violates a girl’s rights should be celebrated,” wrote one Ghanaian Facebook user in response to the video. “How is a 12-year-old becoming a wife in 2024? Is this some sick joke?” commented another.

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However, leaders of the indigenous Nungua community, to which both the priest and child bride belong, have defended the marriage as adhering to their traditional customs and religious practices. They argue the public backlash stems from ignorance about their long-held cultural beliefs.

“The girl’s marriage is entirely based on tradition and custom,” said Nii Bortey Kofi Frankwa II, a prominent community elder, in comments published by British media. “She started the ritual processes to become a wife at age 6, but this did not stop her education.”

Frankwa and other Nungua leaders assert the young bride willingly participated in ceremonial rites over six years to prepare her for married life with the priest, who leads the town’s traditional spiritual worship. Part of those rituals included being advised by older women to use fragrances to enhance her “sex appeal” for her future husband, according to reports.

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The community’s stance underscores the complex tensions between constitutional laws and persisting traditional practices in Ghana’s multi-ethnic society. While the government has made strides in reducing child marriage rates over the past decade through public awareness campaigns and tougher legal enforcement, the harmful custom remains deeply-rooted in some ethnic groups’ belief systems and cultural heritage.

Ghana was among the first countries in the world to outlaw child marriage in 1998. Prior to that, one in three girls married before age 18, according to UN data. As of 2022, the rate of women aged 20-24 married as children had fallen to 17.9%, aided by Ghana’s robust economic growth and increased educational opportunities.

However, advocates warn progress remains fragile, especially in poorer rural communities where child marriage is often driven by economic hardship, low education levels, or beliefs that it protects girls from premarital sex or pregnancy. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated school closures also contributed to rising child marriage cases in recent years as girls were out of the classroom for prolonged periods.

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Ghana’s government has not yet issued any formal statement on the highly publicized child marriage case in Nungua. The incident spotlights the complex challenges still facing the West African nation in enforcing its laws against child exploitation while respecting the diverse customary practices among its ethnic minorities and traditional communities.

As news of the controversial marriage continues to reverberate across Ghana and human rights groups call for intervention, the case represents a pivotal societal test over which authorities must carefully navigate – upholding the protections for minors enshrined in its modern legal code while finding a nuanced path that preserves the cultural heritage and religious freedoms of its indigenous populations.

Ultimately, the highly public saga raises crucial questions about where Ghana will choose to draw the line between respecting traditional values and ensuring no child’s human rights are violated in the name of long-held customs.

Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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