The United Nations Children’s fund (UNICEF) defines child marriage is defined as a formal or informal union between persons below the age 18 years.1 Child marriage continues to be one of the harmful practices affecting children in Ghana. It is a global phenomenon, involving gross violations of human rights, which threatens the survival and development of children. Global statistics released by UNICEF indicate that each year, 15 million girls marry before reaching their eighteenth birthday. A breakdown reveals that every day 41,000 girls get married, every minute 28 girls get married and every two seconds one girl gets married.2 In Ghana, one (1) in four (4) women between age 20 – 24 are married before the age of 18.3 Girls are disproportionately affected by this practice. Though the practice has been in existence for generations, the fight to end it has been weak. The national prevalence rate of child marriage in Ghana between 2011 and 2014 stood at 21%.4 The Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Fatoumata Ndiaye in a press release said, “it will take over 100 years to eliminate child marriage in West and Central Africa considering the current reduction rates”.5
Ghana is one of the first countries to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1990. The country is also a signatory to other international and regional conventions with similar objectives, such as the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) among others. These Conventions seek to protect the rights of children from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation. Further, Ghana embarked on a series of law reforms aimed at protecting the rights of children and strengthening the legal and policy frameworks concerning children.