The Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), a Non-Governmental Organisation, has reiterated calls on traditional authorities to support efforts and campaigns to end child marriage and promote girl-child education and empowerment.
Ms Fatima Ayamga, Field Officer, PPAG, who made the call noted that child marriage continued to be inimical to the growth and development of young people particularly girls and said the situation required urgent collective efforts from all stakeholders to address it for accelerated sustainable development.
“These teenagers are our future and we cannot afford to allow them to get married at tender ages and start having children. Their education would be truncated and they will not be prepared mentally for such a task,” she stressed.
This, she called on all traditional leaders including the chiefs and queen mothers to join the fight against the menace by educating their subjects on the adverse effects of child marriage on the development of the community and enforce community regulations that would deter people from indulging in the practice.
Ms Ayamga was speaking at Yorogo, a suburb of Bolgatanga Municipality of the Upper East Region on the re-launch of a child marriage campaign dubbed, “End Child Marriage” by PPAG.
It was part of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) project with funding support from the Global Affairs Canada, aimed at empowering community stakeholders to help end child marriage menace in the Municipality.
Ms Ayamga noted that the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals remained unrealistic when urgent action was not taken to address teenage pregnancy and child marriage among children.
She advised parents against pushing their teenage pregnant girls into early marriage and noted that in as much as they were disappointed in their wards, compelling them to marry without considering the welfare of the child could be detrimental.
Instead, she said, parents should support their wards to return to school after birth or learn a trade to ensure that they had viable economic adventures to ensure financial independence and help them to live dignified lives.
Mr Jonathan Atsu Dordor, an Investigator, Upper East Regional Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, noted that child marriage was a criminal offence and an affront to the Children’s Act of 1998, Act 560.
Mr Dordor noted that poverty had been identified as a major driver compelling parents to give their children who were under 18 years into marriage and warned such parents to desist from the act as they risked being prosecuted.
“Even though as poor as we may be, we have so many ways of making money or solving issues, marriage should not be the last resort and it is also not wise. So, any parent who pushes the child into marriage, the law will also deal with such a person because the law is no respecter of anybody,” he said.
Mr Akengo Aziire, an Elder of the Yorogo Community, noted that unlike before, due to education and enlightenment child marriage had reduced drastically in the community.
He commended PPAG and its partners and noted that girl child education was paramount to the community and pledged the support of the traditional leaders and other opinion leaders in the community to support all efforts to totally eliminate the issues.