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Reduce marriage age in Ghana to 16 years – Asawase MP Muhammed Muntaka advocates

Member of Parliament for Asawase, the Honourable Muhammed Muntaka Mubarak is advocating for a reduction in the age of marriage in Ghana to 16 years from the current 18 years.

The Minority Chief Whip made the case for a reduction when a Supreme Court Judge nominee Prof Henrietta J.A.N. Mensah-Bonsu appeared before the Appointments Committee Tuesday.

The Asawase MP suggested to the nominee whether it is not more prudent to rescue the age of marriage to 16 to synch with the age of consent.

His point is that even though the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) pegs the age of sexual consent at 16years old, the minimum age for marriage is 18years as enshrined in the Children’s Act 1998 (Act 560) section 14(2).

The age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity.

According to Muntaka, what this is supposed to mean is that whiles a 16-year-old boy or girl is too young to marry, he or she is not too young to have sex, something the Muslim MP said is worrying.

The polygamous lawmaker who enjoys a wide following among Muslim communities questioned that considering that “children these days are becoming sexually active early in their lives, is it prudent to keep the age of marriage at 18?”

The nominee said while she was inclined to agree with the MP, Ghana is a signatory to international conventions that commit the country to institute measures that discourage “Child Marriage”.

She added that bringing down the marriage age “could also open the floodgate”. The Asawase MP however retorted by referring the nominee back to a statement she made earlier in her vetting that “countries must define their own realities” and live up to them, the MP urged authorities, particularly the Judiciary she was joining, to consider.

Checks revealed that whereas Muntaka is advocating for a reduction in the marriage age, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, starting from Otiko Djaba’s tenure had started a stakeholder discussion rather increasing the age of consent to sex from 16 to 18 instead of rather reducing the age of marriage.

According to Otiko at the time, this is meant to uphold the reproductive justice of boys and girls.

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