I was a child bride and I didn’t even know it, considering the fact that every single story about child brides seemed skewed to a particular tribe or religion in this country. This is a misconception that continues to thwart the fight against child marriages in this country. In the minds of people, I am an unlikely victim of child marriage because of my tribe and religion.
But I was a victim. My parents for some reason best known to them thought it wise to betroth me to my father’s middle-aged friend whose wife had died during childbirth. My father saw marrying me to him as a way of cementing his friendship with his childhood friend.
No one asked me if I want to marry a man who was twice my age. No one asked me what I dreamt of becoming after school. No one really cared if I wanted to be mother to a bunch of children I had no hand in making.
My dreams came to a premature end when I turned 12 and had been promoted to Junior High School. I woke up one morning and there were visitors in our house 🏠 haggling prices. I wondered what was being sold as I went about my chores. After some time I heard a loud call for me to approach the elders gathered in the living room.
The deal was done and money had exchanged hands! I was ordered to pack my bags and follow my husband home.
Wait! “What husband”? I asked my mother. She looked the other way as my father dragged and threatened to beat me up if I don’t do as I am told. It took the intervention of a concerned teacher who had not seen me in school to save my neck.
I was home one day when she showed up with the police. My husband, the man I previously referred to as,” uncle “, got arrested immediately. My parents were also arrested. They did spent some time for marrying me off at that age.
Child marriage is alive and well in most communities in Ghana. It occurs almost on a daily basis. Sometimes it takes a concerned loved one to save a child but that is not enough. The campaign against such practices has to be intensified. Perpetrators must also understand that stiffer punishment awaits them if they engage in such evil practices.
There is time for everything and when the time is due, marriage will happen. But in the meantime, for the future of our country, the health of our girls and our own sanity, let’s stop this barbaric act.