Being a child under the legal marriage age does not, according to a judge of the High Court Divorce and Matrimonial Causes 3, make a marriage null and void or unlawful.
According to Her Ladyship Justice Hafisata Amaleboba, having children in a recognized marriage does not make it invalid or unlawful. The decision’s implications have apparently alarmed Childs Right International officials, who are fighting child marriage in Ghana.
The respected High Court judge made the legal argument in a judgment delivered in the Asamoah Gyan and Gifty Gyan Divorce case where the former sought the annulment of his marriage to the latter citing an earlier marriage by the latter to one Eugene Odame Antwi.
But in reply to the annulment suit, Gifty Gyan told the court her 2002 marriage to the said Eugene Odame cited by Asamoah Gyan was a “marriage of convenience” for Europe papers.
She also revealed that she was 17 years old as at the time of the 2002 marriage which the court agreed after examining evidence.
In a judgment on the matter, Justice Hafisata Ameloboba “established on a balance of probabilities that the Respondent was a child aged seventeen (17) years at the date of her marriage to Eugene Odame Antwi”.
The court also found that “she (Gifty) had no legal capacity and could not give her consent to marry” Eugene Odame Antwi.
However, the court said the marriage between the Respondent and Eugene Odame cannot be rendered void, just because she was a minor at the date of the marriage”.
Officials of Child Right say they are seeking legal advice on possible actions to take in case the implications of the case affects other children being lured into marriages below the legal age.
In Ghana legal marriage age is 21 years.