Marriage or informal union in which one or both of parties involved are below the age of 18 is considered a child marriage. Child marriage is illegal in Ghana – both the 1992 Constitution and the 1998 Children’s Act set the legal age for marriage at 18 for both girls and boys. Child marriage in Ghana is more and more associated with informal unions among adolescent girls and boys/men of their same age or a bit older It is fueled by poverty, teen-age pregnancy, limited educational and livelihoods opportunities for girls, social, gender and cultural norms condoning the practice, and further reinforcing gender inequalities (i.e. lower value of the girl child or her education) coupled with poor law enforcement, safety considerations (e.g. fear of girl becoming pregnant out of wedlock or risk of violence and sexual abuse), peer emulation and youth choices in the absence of alternatives.
Child marriage deprives children, especially girls, of achieving their fullest potential or receiving quality education, and it reduces the number of people who can read and write and support community development. A community that wants to develop must ensure that girls are not given off into marriage and are offered appropriate alternatives. Children become responsible community members when they are guided, feel valued and supported by their communities. Most children born through child marriage are likely to become a burden in the community because their parents are not prepared to raise children or provide adequate support.
We must ensure that children, especially girls, are protected and the community is free from child marriage through enforcement of relevant laws. Communities and community leaders should not perform marital ceremonies that involve children. Instead, help victims by reporting to the Police, nearest Social Welfare Office, Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Religious leader, traditional leader or any civil society organisation you trust.