The Upper West Regional Director of the Department of Gender, Ms Charity Bature has said that child marriage is a major cause of poverty among people living in rural communities.
She said girls, who were given away for marriage at a tender age, had no skills or source of income, and could not contribute meaningful to the upkeep of the home, community and the country.
She said they “rather produce children, who would add to the dependency ratio,” and appealed parents to stop child marriage, and ensure that girls were educated or given vocational skills before marriage.
Ms Bature made the call when she met with chiefs and people of Kulpieni,at Kpaala, in the Nadowli-Kaleo District, to sensitize them to the consequences of sexual and gender-based violence, on Saturday.
The meeting, which was supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), aimed at stopping teenage pregnancy and early marriages towards development in the rural areas, where the practiceswere prevalent.
Ms Bature noted that girls, who were married early, became burden to their husbands, who at times abuse their wives to vent their frustration.
“These girls escape marriage and come back home and this time with children and the burden is placed on the parents. The parental responsibility you were trying to escape by giving these girls away has brought more problems as some of the girls return with more mouths to feed,”she said.
MsBaturereminded parents that they were obliged to educate their children and assist them to acquire skills, particularly the girls, so that they could become resourceful.
“These days, parents are complaining that the girls live with men on their own accord, but as parents, we need to use counselling, apply the law, and bring the girls back home, to school or to learning a vocation,” she said.
Ms Bature advised girls not to rush into adulthood, but rather go to school and acquire skills before venturing into marriage.
The District Director for Health Services, Ms Phoebe Balagumyetime,asked parents, especially those in rural areas,to ensure that their children become resourceful and responsible, to be able to contribute to national development.
She said “you are complaining that teachers and nurses do not come to your communities, yet you are giving your children away to marry when they completed junior high school,”and asked “Who should train their children for them to be posted to your communities to serve you as teachers and nurses or health staff?”
MsBalagumyetime urged parents to love their children and give them proper training, to make them resourceful.
She asked “what is more exciting than helping your children, especially girls, complete school or acquire a vocation, work and start receiving income or money so that they can send you remittances ?”
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, KPAALA