Muslim Family Counselling Services (MFCS), a community-based NGO, has stressed the need for stakeholders to work together to strengthen policies, programmes and advocacy to curtail child marriage.
According to the Organization, it was the responsibility of the Ghanaian society to ensure that young girls were well educated, protected and given the necessary support for their general wellbeing and development.
“There are enough resources in the world and in Ghana to ensure all children are fed and educated, without being forced into marriage for survival,” the MFCS noted.
This was in a statement signed by Mr. Mohammed Bun Bida, the Programmes Director, MFCS, and copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Kumasi.
The statement, necessitated by the recent report by the World Vision International on the increasing rate of child marriage globally, said the welfare of children in general ought to be taken seriously.
It decried how the COVID-19 pandemic had brought harsh socio-economic conditions to the society, compelling female children, especially those in poor countries, to be forced into marriage.
According to the World Vision International report, year 2020 saw the largest increase in child marriage rates in 25 years, citing the pandemic, which had increased poverty levels and hunger, and also decreased access to education.
“The risk of girls becoming child brides is increasing,” the report stated, indicating that children who were not in school were 3.4 times more likely to be married than their peers in school.
Data provided in the report said between March to December, 2020, child marriages more-than doubled in many communities compared to 2019.
In an assessment of children and families across nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region from April to June, 2021, 82 percent of the married children interviewed became married after the outbreak of the pandemic.
The MFCS said “we cannot allow millions of children to be forced into child marriage because their parents, who are suffering from increased poverty and hunger levels, are left with little or no option.”
The root causes of child marriage drivers, such as hunger, poverty and access to education ought to be addressed, the statement appealed.
The MFCS lauded the ‘AmplifyChange’, an international organization, for the funding and technical support to promote the rights and interest of children.
It also appreciated the efforts of the Bawku Municipal Education Directorate, faith and traditional leaders, Bawku Municipal Health Directorate, the media and Bawku Municipal Assembly in ending all forms of forced marriages in the area.
The organizational goal of MFCS is to improve the quality of life of people by working with other agencies in joint efforts to provide appropriate information and services for socio-cultural transformation.
For the past 30 years, the NGO implemented education, human rights and health related projects, including; policy and budget advocacy and community mobilization and education.
MFCS seek the realization of the full potential and total human development of people in deprived communities