Traditional authorities in the Tain District of Brong-Ahafo Region, have called for an intensification of public education on the Children Act to end early and forced marriages among many young girls in the society.
They said if school girls understood and are kept abreast with certain provisions in the Children’s Act 560, it would empower them to challenge, resist attempts and even expose family members who might seek to lead them into the practice.
They made these statements at a workshop organised by ActionAid Ghana in collaboration with SODIA, a non-governmental organisation with support from the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
The workshop was attended by about 50 chiefs and queen mothers drawn from Seikwa, Brodi, Brohane, Menji, Nsawkaw and Badu towns.
Nana Asare Boateng, the Krontihene of Badu, said though child marriage is a serious offence under the Children’s Act and other international conventions, until family and some religious heads, community members and the victims come to comprehend its effects, efforts to control the practice would not yield positive outcomes.
He said some perpetrators of such acts often create the impression that the practice is a tradition, which ought to be preserved.
Nana Sakyiwaa Nyarko, the Gyaasehemaa of Nsawkaw Traditional Council, suggested that queens ought to be empowered and strengthened to lead the crusade against the practice in the communities.
She said the formation of girls clubs and the intensified education of the concern in basic schools in the area, would go a long way to inform young girls and empower them to expose perpetrators who would seek to lure or coerce them into such acts.
Nana Nyarko said there is the need for District and Municipal Assemblies to team up with traditional rulers to enact bye-laws that would fight and help eliminate the practice in society.
Mr Kwame Afram, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Programme Officer of ActionAid Ghana, said more than 700 million people worldwide were married as children.
He said girls who marry before they attained 18 years are less likely to remain in school and more likely to experience domestic violence.
Mr Afram said the enforcement of the rights of children is a positive step which ought to be supported.
Mr Afram said according to the 2010 Population and Housing census, out of the 3,254,007 girls, 54 percent of them married within 12 and 17 years.
He said the Upper West Region had the highest figure of 39.2 per cent in child marriage followed by Western with 36.7 per cent, Upper East- 36.3 per cent, Central- 31.2 per cent, Ashanti- 30.5 per cent, Volta 29.3- per cent, Brong-Ahafo-29.1 per cent and Northern -27.4 per cent in that order.