To: Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ghana; Ghana Police Service; Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ghana; Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Ghana; and Ministry of Education, Ghana.

We, the members of the Young African Women Congress (YAWC) Network urgently petition for the immediate intervention and prohibition of the early child marriage of a twelve-year-old girl (Naa Okromo) to a 63-year-old Chief (Gborbu Wulomo) at Nungua in the Greater Accra region of Ghana.

A reportage by the ABLADE TV online news on the 31st of March, 2024, published the customary marriage between Gborbu Wulomo, Nuumo Borketey Laweh Tsuru XXXIII and a girl child identified as Naa Okromo. According to the Nungua custom, the marriage rite forces her to fulfill all the duties of a wife of the Gborbu Wulomo including the role of procreation.

We see this act to be degrading and robbing the girl of her childhood, proper education and future prospects. Early child marriage violates the fundamental rights of children as enshrined in the Children’s ACT, 1998 of the Republic of Ghana. Section (2) of the ACT talks about the Welfare Principle of a child as follows:

  1. The best interest of a child shall be paramount in any matter concerning a child.
  2. The best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration by any court, person, institution or other body in any matter concerned with a child.

In view of the Welfare Principles (i) and (ii) of Section 2 of the Children’s ACT, we petition your office in the interest of the twelve-year-old girl, Naa Okromo, asking for the protection of her fundamental rights as a child.

 

Reasons for the Petition

Giving Naa Okromo to early marriage will affect her education, health, freedom from violence and the opportunity to reach her full potential in life.

Her education will be affected as the marriage will cause her to stop school and assume domestic and wifely responsibilities at a very young age. Also, her health is at a significant risk of experiencing complications during pregnancy and childbirth. This can lead to maternal mortality.

On a broader scope, this under age customary marriage may reinforce harmful gender norms and inequalities by perpetuating the belief that girls are less valuable than boys. It further entrenches disparities in power dynamics, decision-making and access to resources in Ghana. Indulging in early child marriage in Ghana may set a very bad precedence for the other harmful cultural practices to thrive in the country.

Call to Action

According to Section 13 (i)c of the Children’s ACT, 1998, it states that, nobody shall force a child to be married. It is also stipulated in Section 14 (i): No person shall subject a child to torture or other punishment including any cultural practice which dehumanizes or is injurious to the physical and mental well-being of a child.

Based on the Section 13 and 14 of the Children’s ACT, Gborbu Wulomo and his kinsmen have dehumanized Naa Okromo with their cultural practices which is injurious to her physical and mental well-being. We therefore demand that they are brought to book in line with Section 15: Any person who contravenes a provision of this commits an offense and is liable on summary conviction to a fine or imprisonment or to both. We also demand that Naa Okromo is rescued from her parents and the community where the dastard act took place, in line with Section 18 of the Children’s ACT.

Conclusion

Early child marriage is a serious violation of children’s rights with far-reaching consequences for individuals, families and the society as a whole. We therefore urge the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ghana; the office of the President of Ghana; the Ministry of Interior, Ghana; Ghana Police Service; Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ghana; Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Ghana; and Ministry of Education, Ghana, to take immediate and decisive action to stop this harmful practice in the country and ensure a brighter future for all our children.

The Young African Women Congress (YAWC) Network is a fraternity of young women of African descent living in Africa and the diaspora who seek to be empowered and be themselves, changemakers for leadership and development on the continent. Membership of the Network is segmented by Chapters based on country demarcations. However, there is a common goal which involves grassroots mobilisation of women for leadership and development through advocacy, training and projects. The Headquarters of the Network is in Accra- Ghana and there are currently eight operational Chapters across the African continent.

Sincerely,

 

Signed

………………………….

Dr Etornam Bani Fiadonu

Chairperson, Girl Child Education Committee

YAWC Network

0547432446

 

Signed

…………………..

Matilda Hammond

President of Ghana Chapter

YAWC Network

0546360827

 

Signed

……………

Daniel Osei Tuffuor

Executive Chairperson

YAWC Network

0246489782

 

CC:  Chief of Staff, Office of the President, Ghana

The Ark Foundation, Ghana

WILDAF, Ghana

FIDA, Ghana

Ministry of Interior, Ghana

Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU), Ghana

NETRIGHT, Ghana

UNICEF, Ghana

UNFPA, Ghana

United Nations, Ghana

Europe in Ghana

All Media Houses in Ghana