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Traditional, cultural practices must agree with national laws – NCCE

The National Commission for Civic Education (NCC) has condemned the betrothal of a 12-year-old girl to a 63-year-old traditional Priest in the Nungua Township.

A press release signed by Kathleen Addy, the Chairperson, said all cultural or traditional practices and rites must be in syncronisation with the laws of the country particularly, the 1992 constitution.

The NCCE said it was appalled by a recent announcement by the Nungua Traditional Council that, a 12-year-old girl had been betrothed to a 63-year-old Gborbu Wulomo of Nungua, Nuumo Borketey Laweh Tsuru XXXIII.

The Commission expressed concern about the development and said it had no place in the country’s democracy because it was illegal and unconstitutional.

‘The NCCE wishes to remind the Ga Traditional Council that the Children’s Act, Act 560 of 1998, Section 13, (1 and 2) provides that ‘The minimum age of marriage of whatever kind shall be eighteen years’. It is also worth pointing out that the same section of the Children’s Act says that ‘No per
son shall force a child (a) to be betrothed; (b) to be the subject of a dowry transaction; or (c) to be married,” the statement said.

Though the Nungua Traditional Council came out and said the union was voluntary, the NCCE said it was unclear whether the pre-pubescent, pre-teen minor really consented to such an arrangement.

The Commission said the 1992 Constitution, in Article 39, which protected and safeguarded culture also frowned against and advocated the abolishment of traditional practices and rites which were deemed injurious to the health and well-being of the people.

‘… For over a century, our courts have held that traditional practices that are contrary to ‘natural justice, equity, and good conscience’ are outlawed,” the statement said.

The NCCE urged the Nungua Traditional Council to review and tune its traditional practices and rites in line with the laws and 1992 Constitution of Ghana and refrain from all actions that could have a negative impact on the youth of Nungua.

The Commission also
called for the intervention of the National and Regional Houses of Chiefs, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection as well as the Department of Social Welfare to ensure that the best interest of the girl was protected, and child marriages abolished from customary practices.

Source: Ghana News Agency