Allow children to make their own decisions on marriage


Mr Emmanuel Kungi Kwame, Coordinating Director, Ga East Municipal Assembly (GEMA), has urged parents to allow their children to make their own informed decisions on marriage.

He said the children were the ones who would be staying in the marriages and even though parents had their children’s interest at heart, marriage was something that people should not be forced into.

Mr Kungi, speaking at a consultative dialogue between the Department of Gender and stakeholders on the threats of child marriage in the Municipality and how to intensify efforts to curb the menace, he said parents should think twice by looking past the immediate benefits they would get after giving the children’s hand in marriage.

“Let us think twice and not look at the immediate benefits we will get when we marry off our teenage children. Things have changed and Ghanaians should also change,” he said.

He encouraged parents to invest more in their children’s education as it was the major key to success and that when they grew up the children would give them more than what a man will give them after marrying them off.

Ms Selorm Kutoati, Municipal Health Directorate, GEMA, explained that child marriage was the marriage where one of the couples, usually the female was under the age of 18.

She said child marriage violated one’s human rights, restricted the victims from pursuing higher education, maintaining ideal health, socializing with their peers, developing and subsequently picking their own partners.

She noted that although child marriage occurred among boys, the frequency was substantially lower as just 2.3 per cent of men married by the age of 18 in Ghana.

Ms Kutoati emphasised that gender inequalities, poverty, lack of access to education, teenage pregnancy, cultural and traditional practices, were some factors that caused child marriage.

She said there were physical and mental effects that were associated with child marriage. She named high risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, fistula, malnutrition, postpartum hemorrhage and death due to infection and hemorrhage as some of the physical effects associated with child marriage.

“Depression, shattered dreams and aspirations, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, poor well-being, apathetic and insensitivity towards their children are also some of the mental effects of child marriage,” she said.

Ms Kutoati said parents and children were to be educated on the impacts of early marriage on the children and the society to help curb the menace.

Advertisements, educational awareness campaigns and implementation of health outreach initiatives at municipal, regional and national levels should be pursued to curtail child marriage, she said.

Ms Matilda Banfro, Greater Accra Regional Director, Department of Gender, said: “Child marriage practice is a global phenomenon mostly affecting women in a number of countries in Sub Saharan Africa.”

She further added that “in Ghana, one out of five girls are married before their 18th birthday. Girls from rural areas are twice likely to become child brides than those in urban areas, and girls from proper households are four times more likely to marry than those from richer households.”

She suggested that interventions such as hairdressing, tailoring, shop keeping, and other needed support be made available for young married women to cope with the effects of early marriage.

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