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‘Report Child Marriage Cases For Prosecution’
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A judge of a gender-based violence court in Accra, Mrs Rita Agyeman-Budu, has expressed concern about the lack of interest on the part of some victims of child marriage and their relatives to report persons behind child marriage for prosecution.

She said very few cases of child marriage were reported, while those reported were also not pursued due to the absence of witnesses to testify.

According to her, child marriage,  which was linked to defilement, was a crime and could get a culprit between seven to 25 years imprisonment.  

Mrs Agyeman-Budu was speaking at a stakeholders consultative meeting on ending child marriage in Ghana which was organised by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in Accra last Wednesday.

Three-year project
The meeting formed part of a three-year project aimed at developing a national strategic framework to help eliminate the incidence of child and forced marriages in the country.

The framework is expected to guide the coordination of work on the elimination of child and forced marriages and their associated consequences such as teenage pregnancy. 

Mrs Agyeman-Budu said the court of law was ready to give justice to any victim of child marriage. Therefore, victims and relations should not hesitate to report such cases for prosecution.

She urged non-governmental organisations to help victims to seek justice in court  since most of the victims refused to pursue justice due to the lack of capacity.

Anti-Child Marriage Initiative  
A Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs Dela Sowah, said the framework would provide a direction to key actors on how to effectively prevent and respond to cases of child marriage.  

She said the strategic framework formed part of the three-year project dubbed “Anti-Child Marriage Initiative” which was supported by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Dutch Government to end child marriage in Ghana.

She said the initiative would employ various interventions, especially communication, for behavioural change, create platforms for sensitisation and increase public responsiveness to issues related to child marriage.

Mrs Sowah, therefore, urged the media to lead the campaign since they had the voice to reach out to majority of the people.

Undermining development 
A former Vice Chairperson and Rapporteur of the United Nations (UN) Committee on Rights of a Child, Dr Agnes Akosua Aidoo, said child marriage undermined the quality of human development.

Therefore, she said, it was important to come out with a mechanism to deal with the menace through a holistic approach to bring social change to children, especially girls.

She added that young girls who were mostly the victims of child marriage needed to be supported to identify their full potential by going to school.

Source: Daily Graphic

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