Children, particularly girls are now forcing themselves into early marriage in order to fend for themselves and meet the material demands of their parents.
Naba Ayetibo Ayamga, Chief of Sumbrungu-Agosi in the Bolgatanga Municipality of the Upper East Region, said parents no longer force their daughters into early marriage the way it was done in the past but their demands for material gifts from their children push the girls into early marriage.
“You are a parent, and your young child is going out, first of all you will not even ask her where she is going to, but you rather ask her to get you something when she is returning home, some parents even ask their children to travel and work to be able to get whatever they need,” he added.
He revealed this at a re-launch of a child marriage project at Agosi, dubbed, “End Child Marriage” by the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), a non-governmental Organisation.
The project is being funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and aims at empowering stakeholders especially community leaders such as the traditional authorities, opinion leaders and parents to help curb child marriage.
He said teenage pregnancy and child marriage were on the increase in the area and it was a source of worry to stakeholders especially the traditional authorities.
He attributed the cause to parental irresponsibility and negligence and said the behaviour of some parents had compelled their children, particularly girls to engage in risky sexual behaviour by giving themselves out to men in exchange for money.
He, therefore, called on parents to be more responsible by providing their wards with basic needs to prevent them from engaging in transactional sex.
Ms Rosemary Akolbire, the Bolgatanga Municipal Adolescent Coordinator, said teenage pregnancy and child marriage did not only curtail the educational ladder of young people but had serious health implications.
“For the year 2022, the Municipality recorded seven maternal deaths of which three are adolescents. It also causes birth injuries since the girl is not yet matured enough to go through stress and strains of childbirth and this can sometimes lead to fistula and deaths,” she said.
Ms Fatima Ayamga, Field Officer, PPAG in charge of Bolgatanga Municipality, noted that child marriage was a setback to development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and underscored the need for collective stakeholder approach to eliminating the canker.
She said the project sought to engage stakeholders, particularly traditional leaders, opinion leaders and parents to ensure that they played crucial roles in ending the phenomenon in their communities.