Editorial

PPAG, UNFPA launch campaign against child marriage

The Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), launched the national campaign to end child marriage in Wa, the Upper West Region, on Saturday.

The crusade dubbed: “Child Marriage-Free Community Alert Campaign,” sought to mobilise opinion leaders, including chiefs, assembly members, parents and youth, to join the fight against the menace, and strengthen mechanisms to report the incidence.

The Executive Director of the PPAG, Ms Abena Adubea Amonah, noted that child and forced marriages remained human rights violation, which resulted in health and developmental consequences, thereby limiting girls’ empowerment and development.

“Girls, who marry young often drop out of school and face several risks, especially during pregnancy and childbirth. Child marriage is an obstacle to sustainable development due to its negative social, health and economic impact on young girls and communities,” she lamented.

Ms Amoah stated that to support the fight against the menace, which had become development and human rights issue, Ghana had criminalised child and compulsion to marriage under the Criminal Offence Act 1960 (Act 29) section 109 and the Children’s Act, section 14, cautioning that it was criminal to force a child into marriage.

She said “Data, released in 2021, by the Ghana Health Service, indicated that Ghana continues to record higher numbers of teenage pregnancies with over 2,865 pregnancies among girls aged between 10 and 14 years.”

Ms Amoah said that the data showed indicated that at least 2,000 of girls were sexually defiled in 2020, and “the males responsible for the offence may still be walking freely in our communities without anyone holding them responsible or made to face the law”.

She said that to help eliminate the menace, the NGO initiated the campaign which sought to empower communities to report such abuses to the appropriate authorities.

Ms Amoah said as part of the project, flags would be hoisted at selected communities, and (flags) expected to be lowered when child marriage occurred, for stakeholders to investigate and take action.

She urged parents and traditional authorities to support the campaign against child marriage and ensure that girls were better protected.

The Assembly Member for Dondoli, Mr Ibrahim Lukeman, said since the inception of the project in the area, last year, there had not been any incident of child marriage, and commended the PPAG for the campaign.

He also praised PPAG for organising skills training for girls, who were out of school to ensure they were independent, to prevent unscrupulous men from taking advantage of them.

The PPAG together with the leaders of the community and stakeholders after the meeting, hoisted the campaign flag, with the inscription “End Child Marriage Now”, to help in reporting the menace.

FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA

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