Despite criticism, several community leaders have defended the union

A controversy has emerged after a 63-year-old influential priest married a 12-year-old girl in Ghana in a traditional ceremony. As per BBC, Nuumo Borketey Laweh Tsuru XXXIII, a spiritual leader in the Nungua area of the capital, Accra, wed the unidentified child in a huge ceremony on Saturday. Mr Tsuru, known as a “Gborbu Wulomo,” or traditional high priest, wields significant spiritual authority in the Nungua indigenous community.

Notably, the ceremony took place despite the legal minimum age to get married in Ghana being 18 years old.

Images of the wedding ceremony, which was attended by dozens of community members, show the young girl in a simple white dress and a matching headpiece. During the ceremony, women speaking in the local language Ga allegedly told the girl to dress teasingly for her husband. As per BBC, they were also heard advising her to be prepared for wifely duties and to use the perfumes they gifted her to boost her appeal to her husband.

The photos triggered a public outcry by many Ghanaians who pointed out that the practice was illegal. Critics have also called for the authorities to dissolve the marriage and investigate the priest.

Despite criticism, several community leaders have defended the union, saying that people do not understand their customs and traditions. Nii Bortey Kofi Frankwa II, a local community leader, said on Sunday that the girl’s role as the priest’s wife is “purely tradition and custom”.

He further explained that the girl commenced the required rituals to become the priest’s wife at the age of six, but this process did not hinder her education. Some reports indicate the girl is expected to undergo a second customary ceremony to prepare her for marital responsibilities, including childbearing

However, police have identified and tracked down the girl and she is now under their protection, along with her mother. The Ghanaian government has not yet issued a response to the controversial marriage. 

According to Girls Not Brides, an esteemed global NGO, a significant percentage of girls in Ghana marry before reaching adulthood.

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