President John Dramani Mahama said on Wednesday that he would commit murder and go to prison if anybody attempted to marry off his underage daughter.
The President was condemning the phenomenon of child marriages in Ghana.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 7th Africa Conference on Sexual and Healthy Right in Accra Wednesday, the President said it was unfortunate that such a practice continued to thrive in Africa.
He said since there was the tendency for relatives to keep quiet when their underage children were married off, systems must be put in place that alert the authorities for action to be taken.
President Mahama said:“There is a culture of silence amongst relatives; often when a child is withdrawn from school or married off into a force marriage, we need to establish systems that alert the authorities.
“...School authorities must watch out. If a girl stops coming to school, ring the alarm bells, try and find out where the child is and alert the authorities as early as possible so that we can prevent them from being married off,” he stated.
He continued: “I, even as a man won’t want to marry a woman I don’t love not to talk about a woman. Why should you be forced to marry somebody you have no affection for, and especially a child. If my daughter is below 18 and somebody attempted to marry her off, I probably will be in prison; I will commit murder”.
Ghana has one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world. About one out of four girls believe to marry before their 18th birthday.
The Ghana Demographic Health Survey in 2008 indicated that about 25% of women aged 20-24 were married or were in union before age 18 years.