GIRLS not Brides, a global partnership of over 400 civil society groups committed to ending child marriage, estimates that every year, an estimated 15 million girls under 18 years of age are married worldwide.

In the developing world, including Ghana, one in every nine girls is married before her 15th birthday, with some as young as eight or nine years old.

These girls, according to the group, are denied their rights to education, health and other opportunities, and as well, robbed of their childhood.

It said that if nothing is done about the development by 2030, an estimated 15.4 million girl children would marry annually.

It is disturbing that child marriages continue around the world unabated, against both domestic and international law.

The right to free and full consent to marriage is recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEAW), prohibits child marriage.

Again, under the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), governments have committed themselves to ensure the overall protection of children and young people under 18.

Sadly, in Ghana, child marriage, with its implications, is regarded as normal, with a prevalence rate of about 30.1 per cent.

According to a survey conducted last year by the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), the Upper East has an incidence rate of 58.6 per cent, with the Volta Region, the least of 18.7 per cent.

The survey, conducted under a three-year Anti-Child Marriage Project initiated by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the United Nations Population Fund, with the aim of eliminating the incidence of child marriage, revealed Ghana as having one of the highest rates in the world.

The Times is disturbed that the practice is still widespread in the country, despite the disadvantages which are well documented, and the fact that it is considered a crime.

It is also a shame that despite the physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological trauma the victims suffer, the practice has not been stamped out.

We, therefore, advocate sustained efforts to get the practice eliminated, despite its seeming appearance of being rooted in the socio-cultural practices of our people.

We urge the government, stakeholders, traditional and religious leaders, to embark on a sustained campaign to stop this disturbing phenomenon once and for all.

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