The marriage in Ghana of a 13-year-old girl to a 63-year-old priest has sparked consternation in the small West African country and led to calls for the man to be arrested.

Priest Nuumo Borketey Laweh Tsuru XXXIII, also known as Gborbu Wulomo, married the teenager in a traditional ceremony on Saturday near the capital Accra.

Photos and videos of this union circulated on social networks, sparking indignation among Internet users and child rights defenders.

In Ghana, the legal minimum age for marriage is 18 years.

“The state must act immediately,” Nana Oye Bampoe Addo, an activist and former minister of Gender Equality, Children and Social Protection in Ghana, told AFP on Tuesday, stressing that cultural practices were inconsistent with the laws and Constitution of Ghana.

“What just happened is a crime and it is illegal,” she added.

“If the allegations are proven, they constitute a criminal offense for which all those involved must be prosecuted,” the attorney general's office, which has opened an investigation, said in a statement.

Authorities and police say the girl is 13, but traditional authorities involved in the ceremony say she is 16.

To defend this union, the priest's spokesperson affirmed that there was no question of sexual relations. Without giving the teenager's age, he said there would be no one until she reached the legal age of consent, set at 16.

“It is not a marriage ceremony. There is nothing sexual about it. The priest already has three customary wives. It is a customary role which consists of helping the priest in his spiritual duties,” he said. its spokesperson, Mankralo Shwonotalor, declared to AFP by telephone.

He also said the girl's rights had not been violated and she was still attending school.

The girl and her mother were taken into police protection shortly after the wedding.

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