World Vision International Ghana has launched a national campaign in Tamale codenamed, “End child marriage now! It Takes Us All.”
The organization is alarmed by the nation’s statistics of child marriage recorded in deprived communities, hence the campaign launch.
Chairperson of the Advisory Council of World Vision International Ghana, Dr. Adelaide Kastner at the event said the crusade sought to encourage child rights activism.
She emphasized the strict enforcement of laws and policies linked to child marriage.
Dr. Adelaide Kastner called for amendment of Ghana’s Criminal Offences Act 1960 to tie consensual sex age of 16 to the required legal marriage age of 18.
She implored government and development partners to make available adequate financial resources required for the fullest implementation of Ghana’s National Strategic Framework designed to end child marriage from 2017-2026.
She underscored the need for government to reinforce child protection agencies such as the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) and the Department of Social Welfare.
“Faith based leaders, traditional leaders, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations and the media should build community awareness of existing child marriage laws and formal prevention mechanisms and the impact of child marriage.”
A representative of UNICEF, Gloria Nyam Gyang implied that Ghana has a record of one out of five girls engaging in informal marriage.
“Here, in the northern part of the country, it is even 1 in every 3 of ours. In the face of this staggering reality, we need to reaffirm our strong commitment and intensify our efforts.”
She cited poverty, teenage pregnancy, very limited education and opportunities, gender inequality, traditions and social expectations as some of the key drivers of child marriage in Ghana.
“Sometimes girls themselves choose to be in a union because they perceive it to be what is expected of them, maybe to gain some status and recognition in the community, to escape from poverty or non-supportive family environment, or only because they have dropped out of school and don’t have any other viable alternative.”
The campaign aims at contributing 50 percent to the reduction of child marriage in Ghana by 2021.
It also seeks to challenge social norms and eliminate harmful practices against children, improve policy implementation as well as strengthen institutions and faith communities to protect children from the canker.
The 2015 Human Rights Watch Report titled “Ending Child Marriage in Africa” revealed that globally, more than 700 million women are victims of the circumstance.
The report further indicated that in sub-Saharan Africa, a staggering 40 percent of girls marry below 18.
African countries account for 15 out of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage.
By: Abdul Karim Naatogmah/citifmonline.com/Ghana