LEGAL AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK TO COMBAT EARLY MARRIAGE
LEGAL AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK TO COMBAT EARLY MARRIAGE
LEGAL AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK TO COMBAT EARLY MARRIAGE Creating the legal framework means that Government and the legislature should ratify relevant international human rights instruments, pass appropriate domestic legislation and enforce the law so every woman and girl is protected from being married against their will. Ghana was the first country to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which called for the abolishment of traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children. It states further that children have the right to express their views freely, the right to protection from all forms of abuse and the right to be protected from harmful traditional practices. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights insists on the “right to free and full consent to marriage” (article 16) and states that “marriage should be entered only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. Where one of the parties getting married is under 18, consent cannot always be assumed to be “free and full”. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) states that “the betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect” and calls upon states to set legal minimum ages for marriage of their young daughters and sons due to strong social pressures at the community level. LAWS PROSCRIBING CHILD EARLY AND FORCED MARRIAGE IN GHANA The 1992 Constitution and the Children’s Act (Act 560) both define a child as a person below the age of 18. The Children’s Act further pegs the minimum marriage age in Ghana at 18 and frowns on children being withdrawn from school for marriage. Section 14 of the Act provides that a person shall not force a child to be betrothed, to be subject of a dowry transaction or to be married. The Criminal Code Amendment Act (Act 554) prohibits compulsion in marriage and giving a girl out in marriage without her consent. Section 100 of the Act provides that if a female is compelled to marry another person by duress this makes the marriage void or voidable, the marriage is of no effect”. Section 109 also states that “whoever by duress causes any person to marry against his or her will shall be guilty of a misdemeanor” Section 92 states that “a person is guilty of abduction of a female who with intent to cause her to be married to any person when he unlawfully takes her from lawful possession and care and detaining her. Section 109 also states clearly that forcing a person to marry against their will is illegal while the Children’s Act also stipulates that forced child marriage is illegal (Sec. 13 and 14).The Domestic Violence Act, (Act 732) 2007. Section 1(b) defines domestic to include” the forcible confinement and detention of another person”.

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