A women?advocacy?organization, Women in Law and?Development in Africa (WiLDAF) in partnership with CARE Ghana, has organised a day?s seminar to sensitise Muslims Imams to brace up and fight against early and forced marriages among girls in their communities.
Mrs. Bernice?Sam,?Human Rights?Advocate and a member of WiLDAF who spoke on the theme; “Positive Actionagainst Early and Forced Marriages,? said the rate at which girls are being given out in marriage before the legal age of 18 is a major concern since early marriage has serious implication on the development of the victims.
The seminar was to ensure that children enjoy their rights in the society while fighting against gender based violence meted out on such children.
Mrs. Bernice?Sam noted that the practice has a severe effect on the economy?since most of the girls would be?school dropouts.
She also enumerated that engaging or encouraging such practices will not help with the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal three which clearly states that children should be educated to become future leaders.
Mrs. Sam said this would require the country to put in more resources to ensure that they acquire employable skills.
She said it was a huge responsibility for a girl to become a wife and a mother when she is not prepared for such roles, averring that early?marriages?take place because of a?number of factors?including religious beliefs, betrothal, tradition practices and poverty.
She however appealed to the Ministry of Gender,?Children?and?Social Protection?to ensure that children, especially girls, complete quality basic education and provide qualified teachers to teach them.
On his part, Sheikh?Alhassan Salman, Chairperson, National Representatives Assembly of ASWAT, said forced marriages are?null?and void since marriages has to be conducted with the consent of both male and female.
He urged?Muslims?and Christians to know that the act of forced marriages is against Ghana?s culture and the?international human rights?of every individual.
Women in Law and Development in?Africa?(WiLDAF) is a pan-African, non-governmental?organisation?that brings together individuals and organisations to promote the culture for the exercise and respect for women?s rights in Africa through a variety of tools, including law.
WiLDAF also called on?civil society?organisations (CSOs) and the media to continue intensifying their advocacy to ensure that the practice was stopped.
Early Child and forced marriages have become an increasing phenomena in Ghana with a survey conducted by WiLDAF for Parliamentarians for Global Action, revealed that the country had one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates globally.
The Ghana Demographic?Health Survey?in 2008 also revealed that 25 per cent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married or were in a union before attaining the age of 18. The phenomenon of early and forced marriages had dire consequences on women and girls.
Even though gender inequalities, tradition, religion, poverty, among others, appear to be the root causes of early and?forced?marriages, failure on the part of law enforcers and the ignorance of existing laws seem to be the major causes.