Residents of La, a suburb of Accra, want authorities to rescue 14-year-old Naa (not her real name), who is married to a 48-year-old man in that area.
Naa was married off to Akwetey Ashong after the father of her 6-month-old baby disappeared after getting her pregnant.
Naa was 10 years old when her parents died leaving her grandmother to care for her. The now 14-year-old got pregnant at age 14 and had to live on GH¢2 a day as the father of her child disappeared.
“I was running errands for my grandmother when I met the first man who impregnated me. He left me to my fate after I told him I was pregnant. It was difficult at home. My grandmother had to shoulder the responsibility. It wasn’t easy at all.”
Naa was elated when Elizabeth Borley visited the family at Ningo and offered to help her sort out her predicament. The help came in the form of marriage to a 48-year-old man and with a bottle of schnapps, the union was cemented.
“When I was told I will be married off to this man, I was happy because living with my grandmother was difficult,” Naa said.
She now moved in with her husband, Akwetey Aban Ashong at La, a suburb of Accra with her now 6-month-old baby.
48-year-old Akwetey Aban Ashong is married to the 14-year-old Naa
At my first meeting with the 48-year-old Akwetey Aban Ashong, I thought he was Fati’s father but I was wrong as he proudly said she was his wife. When quizzed on whether he knew his action was a criminal offense, this was his response.
“I don’t think it is criminal. I don’t pay heed to naysayers. She’s a woman who will soon grow and so I’m not worried at all.
Her guardian madam Borley supported Akwetey Ashong’s justification for his union with Naa.
“It doesn’t bother me because she has already delivered a child. It is better to marry her off than have another man impregnate her.”
But with a wife as young as Naa, will there be any sexual activity between the two? Well, Naa had this to say.
“Yes! He has sex with me.”
Neighbours of the couple are unhappy with the development and want the government to intervene
When contacted, the Child Protection Unit of the Gender, Children and Social Protection requested a month to react to the story. But criminal Lawyer Yaw Danquah could not mince words indicating there is no such thing as early marriage and that the 48-year-old Akwetey Ashong and his conspirator have committed a crime and must be made to face the full rigours of the law.
According to the UNFPA-UNICEF program to accelerate action to end child marriage in the country, Ghana’s regions are recording a high prevalence rate of child marriages. On average, 1 out of 5 girls in Ghana is married off before their 18th birthday. In other words, the percentage of girls between 20- 24 years who were married or in a union by age 18 is 21% nationally.
This amounts to approximately 260,000 affected girls in the country. However, for girls living in the three Northern Regions of Ghana (Northern Region, Upper East, and Upper West regions), this number increases to 1 out of 3 girls (34%). Marriage before age 15 does occur, although it is rarer for girls in Ghana (national prevalence of 5%).