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Over 1,000 locked up in child marriages in Nkwanta North

Over 1,000 locked up in child marriages in Nkwanta North

Child marriage for both boys and girls persists in the Nkwanta North and other parts of the Oti Region despite the existence of laws and policy frameworks to eliminate it.


A 2023 Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) report revealed that out of 3,728 recorded cases of child marriages (12 to 17 years) across the eight districts in the region, a third of the cases (1,014) of them were from the Nkwanta North District.

This represents 27.3 per cent of the total child marriage cases in the region while the Guan District had the lowest cases (79 cases, representing 2.1 per cent). The report further showed that out of the 1,014 children who were involved in early marriage, 43 per cent were boys while 57 per cent were girls.

The Head of the Gender Department at the Oti Regional Coordinating Council (ORCC), Esther Hammond, explained to The Mirror that while some of the child marriages involved adult men and under-aged girls, there were other cases where boys were either married to girls or in cohabitation.  

She described the spate of early marriages in the Nkwanta North District and the region as worrying because it was detrimental to the overall development of the children.

Ms Hammond said apart from poor health outcomes, early marriages increased risks of maternal and child mortality, entrenched gender inequality, disrupted education and deepened the vicious cycle of poverty.

“The situation is so serious because it has deprived girls of the right to education. Although the government has a policy on re-entry that allows girls to get back to school after childbirth, it affects them mentally, and some of them drop out of school again,” she said.


Despite global and national efforts to eliminate child marriages and other harmful practices, it remains a daunting challenge, particularly impacting the lives of young girls.

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) estimates that over 12 million girls worldwide are married before the age of 18.

In Ghana, recent data highlights the urgency of the issue, with the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC) revealing that 79,733 girls aged 12 to 17 years were married or living with a partner.

This situation is particularly prevalent in regions such as the North-East, Northern, Savannah, Upper West, Upper East and Oti, where factors such as adolescent pregnancy contribute significantly to the high incidence of child marriage.

National outlook

The GSS report indicated that although the number and proportion of children that had ever been in union declined over the past decade, over 100,000 children were in union in 2021.

Additonally, the report showed that the population of child marriage increased in five regions - Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East and Upper West, between 2010 and 2021, despite the national figure falling by almost half in the intercensal period.

The report revealed that “a higher proportion of children ever in union had never attended school, and for those that had ever attended school, a higher proportion were currently not attending or had attended a lower level compared to children never in union.”

The findings also point to the heightened vulnerability of girls as indicators such as type of locality, parental survival and education had a larger influence on the likelihood of child marriage for girls compared to boys.

Stakeholder engagement

To help reverse the increasing spate of child marriages in the Nkwanta North District, the Department of Gender at the ORCC, with funding support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), started stakeholder engagement.  

A consultative meeting was held with community leaders on how to prevent child marriage and other harmful cultural practices in the district last week. The consultative meeting brought together 72 participants made up of chiefs, opinion leaders, heads men, religious leaders, assembly members, women groups, youth groups and other stakeholders.

The participants were drawn from six communities — Nabu, Abunyanya, Danladi, Kabonwule, Koni and Najingon.

The forum was meant to raise awareness of the negative effects of child marriage, deepen the understanding of its local drivers, and equip community leaders with the knowledge and tools needed to advocate policy changes and local interventions.

Collective action

Ms Hammond said engagement with the stakeholders was meant to jointly develop tailored action plans to tackle child marriage in the district. “The consultative workshop, organised by the Department of Gender with support from the UNFPA, represents a vital step in our collective efforts to end child marriage.


We have the unique opportunity to empower community leaders to become agents of change, ensuring the protection and well-being of our children,” she said.

She told the The Mirror that participants at the meeting had resolved to set up child protection committees and also work closely with school authorities at the basic level to address the triggers of child marriages.

Ms Hammond said she was optimistic that when the stakeholders worked together, they could create a future where every child was free from the threat of early marriage to pursue their dreams and aspirations.

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