ActionAid Ghana has held the first-ever protest walk, dubbed: “End Child Marriage”, with a call on stakeholders to support children, especially the girl-child, in acquiring, at least, basic education before thinking about marriage.
ActionAid Ghana, the Global Social Justice Organisation, which is working to achieve social justice, gender equity and poverty eradication, has also called for extensive public education on child marriage that stands at 21 per cent in Ghana, with 41,000 girls marrying everyday globally.
Madam She-Vera Anzagira, Project Co-ordinator of the End Child Marriage Project – ActionAid, who made the call in Accra on Saturday, said the call had become urgent, looking at indicators that were showing high incidences in the various regions of the country.
“The prevalence is high in Upper East, leading with 37 per cent, followed by Upper West and Northern, with Cape Coast and Brong Ahafo leading in southern Ghana, while Accra comes with the least of 12 per cent,” she said.
Madam Anzagira observed that the incident was not serious in southern Ghana, due to the high literacy rate and the presence of the middle class, unlike the northern part, where abduction was on the increase.
“The problem of high poverty, illiteracy and the lack of knowledge on the dangers of these practices have caused child marriage to be on the increase in the northern part of the country,” she said.
Madam Anzagira noted that 700 million women, currently were married before the age of 18, while 250 million women were married before the age of 15, with 15 million girls being married every year before their 18th birthday.
“According to hard facts on child marriage, 41,000 girls marry every day, 28 girls marry every minute, and every two seconds a girl gets married,” she said.
She called for the intensification of plans in addressing the problem, adding; “there should be more education on sex, children’s rights, and life skills in the regions, as they are already happening in the southern part of the country.
“Stakeholders are also not able to help due to attitudinal issues coming up,” she said.
Madam Anzagira said so far, ActionAid Ghana had 340 girls clubs across Upper East, Upper West, Brong Ahafo and Greater Accra regions, where community sensitisation programmes were held frequently.
She, however, mentioned shelter, psychological and social support as some of the challenges associated with rescue efforts.
Alhaji Sani Yakubu, Deputy Director of ActionAid Ghana, said ActionAid was implementing the End Child Marriage Campaign in 12 districts across Ghana, in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
He said it was the aim of the campaign to reduce the incidence of child marriage, and to promote children’s protection and well-being.
Some survivors, who had been saved from child marriage, shared their experiences with the Ghana News Agency, and thanked ActionAid for saving them and giving them hope.
The walk was supported by UNICEF, the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service, and End Child Marriage Secretariat of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
The walk, on the theme: “Below 18+ Marriage = Child Marriage,” started at 0600 hours from Adentan Police Station, and saw about 150 participants walking through Madina, Atomic Junction, Legon and Shiashie to the Tetteh Quarshie Roundabout.
By Elsie Appiah-Osei
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