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Early Marriages Increase In The Central Region   
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Available statistics from the 2015 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICs) and the Ghana Demographic Health Survey Report 2014 puts the Central Region as the fourth highest with child marriage prevalence rate in Ghana.

It said more than 31 per cent of girls in the Region are married off before the age of eighteen.

By this report, it means that one out of every three girls in the Region marries before attaining the age of eighteen.

Mrs Thywill Eyra Kpe, Central Regional Director of the Department of Gender, said this at a capacity building forum for adolescent girls in the Gomoa West District on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), teenage pregnancy and early marriage.

The forum, organized by the Department of Gender in collaboration with the Regional Coordinating Council and funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was on the theme: “Empowering the girl child to prevent SGB, teenage pregnancy and early marriage”.

It was aimed at building the capacity of young girls on the effects and prevention of teenage pregnancy, SGBV, and early marriage in the Central Region.

Mrs Kpe said the forum formed part of recommendations from two policy dialogues organized by her department for traditional leaders, heads of schools and other stakeholders on the chosen topic to empower the girls themselves to stand against any form of (SGBV), teenage pregnancy and early marriage.

The Ghana Health Service Report for 2015 also revealed that more than 13,000 teenagers representing 14.4 per cent of teenage girls in the Region got pregnant, showing a gradual decline from the previous years.

She said forcing girls into early marriages had the potential of denying the girl-child of her educational opportunities and skills development, exposing the victims to prenatal difficulties such as fistula, malnutrition, hemorrhage and high maternal deaths.

She said some cultural beliefs and practices such as female genital mutilation, widowhood rites, among others impacted negatively on victims and the society, and stressed the need for such practices to be discarded.

She said the UMFPA in 2008 indicated that 47 per cent of girls with no education were more likely to marry before their 18th birthday as compared to 15 per cent of girls who attended secondary school, an indication that the more educated the girl child, the less likely she would be involved in early marriage.

Mrs Kpe said with the high child marriage prevalence rate, SGBV as well as teenage pregnancy, there was the need for institutionalized and pragmatic measures to reduce the rising incidences.

She was, however, hopeful that with continuous efforts in empowering girls to understand the dare consequences of SGBV, teenage pregnancy and early marriages, reproductive health and rights; it would inculcate in them the need to protect themselves and consequently provide a better life and future.

The Regional Coordinator of DOVVSU, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) George Appiah-Sakyi expressed worry about the continuous increase in the cases of child abuse, defilement and non-maintenance and unlawful removal of children in the Region.

He said defilement rose from 209 in 2014 to 212 in 2015 with non-maintenance rising from 912 in 2014 to 938 last year.

He said DOVVSU would continue to partner various agencies to educate the public on the effects of SGBV and the need to report it.
Source: GNA

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