Let us stop child marriages in Ghana now

Girl Child Marriages
Girl Child Marriages

Mrs. Thywill Eyram Ekpe, the Volta Regional Director, Department of Gender, has appealed to Ghanaians, especially parents not to force or betroth children, especially the girl-child into marriage.

She said the act contravened life God desired for them.

According to her, the minimum age of marriage of whatever kind should be 18 years and any marriage before age 18 was considered as child marriage.

She said the practice also contravened section 15 of the Children’s Act, 1998 (ACT 560); stressing that any person who contravened a provision of this sub-part committed an offence and was liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding GH₵500.00 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or to both.

Mrs Ekpe said this at a three-day Child Protection Community Facilitation Toolkits workshop organised by the Office of the Head of Local Government Services in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) and Local Government and Rural Development for NCCE, Social Welfare and Community Development and Girl-Child Officers from selected districts in Oti, Volta and Eastern Regions.

The United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) funded the project.

She said leaders of religious bodies equally needed to preach against any tradition, customs, and religious practices, which could affect the development of girls to help to end the practice.

“Avoid marrying off pregnant girls to safeguard family and religious honour. Refuse to officiate such marriages,” she advised.

Mrs Ekpe reiterated the need for parents to desist from marrying off girls but provide them with their basic needs and protect them from early sex.

The Regional Director urged them to report any act that subjected the girl-child to violence including sexual abuse and exploitation to the appropriate offices for action.

She said acts such as neglect, emotional, physical, psychological and lack of supervision must be guarded against in order not to expose the girl-child to predators.

Mrs Ekpe also bemoaned the increasing number of incest cases in the Volta Region; adding this year alone, six cases had been reported including a “father sleeping with three daughters.”

Mr Christopher Ayertey, Deputy Volta Regional Officer, Department of Births and Deaths, urged the citizenry to register their births and deaths as they are needed for national planning.

He said birth registration helped to identify individuals and aids in determining one’s age.

Mr. Ayertey, who presented a paper on importance of Births and Deaths registration, said “registration takes place on the day a child is born” and that it is free.

The Deputy Regional Officer said the department noticed with pain the late registration of births and deaths due to ignorance and called for a change in attitude.

Miss Joyce Odame, Child Protection Officer, UNICEF tasked participants to work as a team as child protection issues were varied, so no single entity could tackle it alone.

She said they needed to engage community members to help protect children against neglect, abuse, and exploitation.

Dr. Faustina Essandoh, Director, Community Development, charged participants to be open and work for the interest of the child.

She advised them to apply knowledge acquired scrupulously to help achieve the desired outcomes.
Nov 16, 2022

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