South Asia and Beyond

Ghana Child Bride Rescued After Marriage To 62-Year-Old High Priest

Despite Ghana's legal marriage age being 18, the high priest defended the union, claiming it was purely ceremonial in nature.
 Ghana Child Bride Rescued After Marriage To 62-Year-Old High Priest

Disturbing footage from the wedding showed community members encouraging the young bride to adopt provocative behaviour to please her elderly husband,

Authorities in Ghana have taken swift action after a shocking case of child marriage came to light, sparking nationwide outrage. A 12-year-old girl was recently married off in a traditional ceremony to a 63-year-old indigenous high priest in the capital city of Accra.

The incident was brought to public attention through viral videos circulated on social media platforms, depicting the young girl’s wedding attended by dozens from the local community. Despite Ghana’s legal marriage age being 18, the high priest defended the union, claiming it was purely ceremonial in nature.

Responding to the public furore, the Ghanaian police have located the minor bride and placed her under their protection along with her mother. Investigations are currently underway, with law enforcement coordinating with the children’s ministry and social welfare agencies to ensure the child receives appropriate care and support.

While some have applauded the authorities’ intervention, others have questioned why no arrests have been made so far in connection with this illegal child marriage case.
The high priest at the centre of the controversy is a prominent spiritual leader within the Nungua community of Accra. Known as a “Gborbu Wulomo,” he is entrusted with performing sacred rituals, enforcing cultural traditions, and presiding over ceremonies such as the installation of traditional chiefs.

Disturbing footage from the wedding showed community members encouraging the young bride to adopt provocative behaviour to please her elderly husband, including advice on using perfumes to enhance her sexual appeal. Community elders have claimed that while the marriage took place, consummation would not occur until the girl turns 18.

Child rights organizations have strongly condemned the incident, expressing concerns that the endorsement of such practices by influential community figures could enable deviant behaviours like paedophilia. Despite a decline in child marriage rates, Ghana still grapples with an estimated two million unions involving underage brides, with over 90% of married girls dropping out of school.

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The case highlights the complex interplay between cultural traditions and legal norms in Ghana. Within certain indigenous communities, the selection of chiefs, high priests, and their wives is regarded as a spiritual process, with specific families tasked with nominating candidates to serve the gods. In this instance, the 12-year-old girl hails from one such family traditionally obligated to provide a bride for the high priest.

According to one report, however, the Nungua Traditional Council has clarified that Naa Yoomo Ayemuede, the supposed spouse of the Gborbu Wulomo of Nungua, Nuumo Borketey Laweh Tsuru XXXIII, is currently 16 years old, contrary to earlier reports stating she was 12.

NewsAlertGhana, a local website, quoted Rev Dr Daniel Nii Gyasi Ankrah, Director of Administration, Office of the Gborbu Wulomo-Shitse as saying that: “We would like to emphasise that there is no carnal relationship or marriage involved as perceived by many. Naa Yoomo attends one of the best private schools in Nungua. She has a chauffeur that takes her to school and brings her home. She’s been attended to.”
(With inputs from AP)

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