Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) has called on Government to review the Childs right Act and put strict measures in place that would prevent parents from forcing their girl child into early marriages.
The NGO said this is because, the rate at which girls are being forced into early marriages is still on the rise in the capital city and other parts of the country, which is posing a serious threat to these children, as far as their health and education are concerned.
The theme for this year’s celebration, “25 Years after the Adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa,” affirms that, “Africa has the second highest rates of child marriage in the world after South Asia.
Mrs Esinam Ahiadome, the Programmes Officer, WiLDAF, said this at a seminar organised together with Cross Roads International, to commemorate the International Day of the African Child in the country.
Mrs Ahiadome, speaking to some basic school students at the seminar, noted that, the rate at which girls are being given out for marriage before the legal age of 18 years is a major concern, since early marriages has a serious implication on the development of the victim.
She stressed that every minute, 27 girls under 18 are being forced into marriages, which is a serious problem, saying “if this continues, sooner or later there would not be girls going to school to take up leadership positions in the country”.
The WiLDAF Ghana commends the African Union for bringing to bear the pervasive nature of child marriages on the continent and calling on member states to help put a stop to the gross abuse of children’s rights. She added.
She reiterated that early marriages take place because of a number of factors such as religion, poverty and teenage pregnancy, which has left these children to become widows, illiterates and in some cases, these children die at child birth.
She said this has increased divorce rates and made a lot of them to continuously wallow in hardships, in cases where children are involved, these children are not well educated.
Mrs Ahiadome called on the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) and the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), and the NCCE to take stronger action to stop child Marriages in Ghana.
She said they should work at resourcing state and non-state agencies to intensify public awareness of legislations that sets 18 as the minimum legal age for marriage, for both girls and boys, including ensuring that national law complies with international law, and asserting the primacy of national law over religious or customary laws.
She thus, urged the children to confide in their teachers, the CHRAJ, DOVVSU and society leaders among others, to curb the situation.
The International Day for the African Child is an occasion initially meant to commemorate the 1976 uprisings in Soweto, when a protest by school children in South Africa against apartheid – inspired education, resulted in the public killing of over 100 of these unarmed young protesters by police officials.
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