Campaigns and Fundraising Coordinator of Amnesty International Ghana, Samuel Agbotsey has called for an amendment of the law on consensual age that allows a person to engage in sexual activities at age 16.
According to Mr Agbotsey, the country’s Criminal Offense Act 29 provides the consensual age for a person to engage in sex at 16 years while the law that defines the legal adult age of a person is 18 years.
The Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) pegs the age of sexual consent at 16 years while the Children’s Act 1998 (Act 560) provides in section 14(2) that the minimum age for marriage is 18.
It also provides that children, defined as boys and girls below the age of 18, have a right to refuse betrothal and marriage under section 14(1).
The laws, he said, are contradictory and need to be reviewed.
Mr Agbotsey was speaking at an inception meeting of stakeholders on addressing issues of Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (DGBV) through Women Empowerment and Advocacy in Aburi in the Akuapem South Municipality of Eastern Region.
The Project, which will run from September 2021 to August 2022, is funded by Karen Takacs Women’s Leadership Fund of the Crossroads International and seeks to address DGBV issues through women empowerment and advocacy.
Mr Agbotsey said most children were abused because of the Criminal Offence Act, which allows children who have attained the age of 16 years to legally engage in sexual activities.
“The law is to protect children,” he said.
“The conceptual age law was passed by some group of people in a certain traditional area who were by that time married to juveniles and did not want to be found wanting.”
He pointed out that the shortcoming of the law was putting children in harm’s way and must be amended to ensure adequate protection of Ghanaian children.
However, Sylvanus Bedzrah, the Communications Officer of Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC), said the law was passed to satisfy the religious beliefs and moral standards of everyone in the country.
In Ghana, the minimum age of sexual consent is defined as the age at which a young person is deemed capable of consenting to sexual activity.