Nana Oye Lithur ? Minister for Gender & Social Protection
ActionAid Ghana is advocating the abolishing of marriage by abduction calling for the practice to be made a punishable offence by the end of 2014.
The international NGO committed to fighting poverty and injustice in society, made the call to the leadership of the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs and urged them to take steps to abolish the practice.
Mr. George Dery, ActionAid Upper West Programme Manager, spoke on behalf of the organisation during a presentation of educational materials valued at GH?6,000.00 to some abducted girls, who were rescued and sent back to school by the Community Based Anti-Violence Teams (COMBAT) in the region.
Mr. Dery believed the chiefs could help abolish the practice in the region, saying they did that for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
According to Mr. Dery, data gathered by COMBAT on abduction in 57 communities in the Sissala East, Jirapa and Lambussie-Karni districts indicated that in 2011 and 2012, 57 and 51 girls were abducted respectively.
Mr. Dery said marriage by abduction breached the rights and freedoms of the girl child as enshrined in the various international human rights instruments.
?The practice, apart from denying the girl-child her right to education, is also illegal in all forms. It breaches the African Charter on Children Rights, Children?s Act and the 1992 republican Constitution of Ghana?, he stated.
The ActionAid Programme Manager is therefore appealing to all stakeholders including chiefs, metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, NGOs as well as groups and well-meaning individuals to collaborate effectively to eliminate such a negative socio-cultural practice against young girls in the region.
Mr. Israel Akrobortor, the Regional Director for the Department of Children, called on parents to take full responsibility of the proper upbringing of their children so they did not become victims of negative socio-cultural practices.
Mr. Akrobortor appealed to people of the region to support the Police to fully prosecute perpetrators of such crimes in order to serve as a deterrent to others in society.
Mrs. Mary Hammond, Programme Officer, Girls Education Unit, who lamented the plight of the girls, also called for proper sanctioning of perpetrators of such crime, but added that it could only be achieved if all agreed abduction was a crime.
She said the Unit was doing its best to ensure that all girls went to school including victims of negative socio-cultural practices such as abduction and elopement.
Mr. Richard Boadu, Plan Ghana Upper West Area Programme Manager, said his organisation would be willing to continue to support the girls at any level of their education if ActionAid decided to pull-out.
He reminded the girls that they also had a duty to continue to learn hard in school so they could benefit from such support to complete their education.