The Greater Accra Department of Gender, in collaboration with the Tema West Municipal Assembly, has engaged communities within the municipality on measures to end child marriage.
The dialogue was to engage identifiable groups on the negative effects of child marriage with respect to their rights and impacts on health and, to be able to equip stakeholders with the understanding and the need to prevent child marriage in their respective communities.
Mrs. Matilda Banfro, Greater Accra Regional Director Department of Gender said marriage was a consensual union between two individuals who have attained the legal age of 18 years, and for that matter, it should not be forced against a person’s will.
She explained that child marriage is a global phenomenon affecting mostly women in Sub-Saharan Africa with a staggering 40 percent among married women.
“African countries account for 15 out of the 20 countries with the largest rates of child marriage,” she said.
She said poverty, teenage pregnancy, and cultural norms such as betrothal marriage, exchange of girls for marriage, and pressure from family and friends as some of the drivers of child marriage.
Mrs. Banfro emphasized that child marriage ended a child’s childhood dreams and aspirations which in turn influenced children’s rights to education, health, and protection. These consequences impact not just the girl directly but also her family and community.
“The Children’s Act 560 categorizes child marriage as a criminal offense; it prohibited by law for a child to get married until at the age of 18 years,” she added.
Mrs. Banfro encouraged girls forced to marry voice out and report to the necessary social and human rights institutions or call the helpline tollfree 0800 800 800, 0800 900 900.
She urged the chiefs, religious leaders to be ambassadors in fighting child marriage.
Mr. Ubor Henry the Assemblyman for the Klagon Electoral Area told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that it was a privileged dialogue on measures to end child marriage to educate the public on the negative implications of child marriage.
He said no law permitted child marriage and he would play a vital role to educate his area to stop child marriage.
Mrs. Comfort Aloroyo a resident of Adjei Kojo present at the event expressed gratitude toward the organizers and challenged the Department of Gender to keep organizing social programmes to sensitize residents and the public on societal issues and their necessary prevention.