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Students in Tolon distinct calls for an end to early child marriage


imageStudents from four basic schools in the Tolon District of the Northern Region have called for a stop to early child marriage in Ghana.

The students drawn from Tali, Chirifoyili, Watugu and Yoggu basic schools who made the call at Yoggu D/A Junior High School say the practice is affecting their future as most of them are dropping out of school after getting pregnant and being forced into marriage.

They also called on community leaders, chiefs and law enforcement agencies to step up their efforts at curbing the menace. Their call follows increasing cases of student pregnancies in their school. In 2014, for example, two students from Yoggu JHS got pregnant and in 2015 there were three pregnancies; two girls got pregnant by a colleague student while the other was impregnated by a community member.

This, the students say is worrying and needs urgent attention. They also stressed that they are ready to continue their education to the highest level before plunging into marriage and want their parents to support them.

In 2015, the students say they heard about the attempts parents of one of their colleagues were making to give her out for marriage. But they quickly reported it to their patron who intervened to save the girl from getting married. The student leader said she pleaded with the parents to spare the girl who had not yet reached the stipulated constitutional age(18) of marriage in Ghana.

Ms. Abubakari Fatima at a drama during Children Against Child Marriage (CCM) forum organized by the Northern Sector Action on Awareness Center( NORSAAC) to draw home their plight stated that, early child marriage affects their health especially, during delivery  and all measures must be put in place to address the problem.

Yoggu was one of the centers where the discussion on early child marriage was held. Gender and Governance Manager of NORSAAC Abukari Kawusada explained that Yoggu was chosen due to the number of cases her outfit has recorded in the community. She expressed the hope that with the community engagement together with a commitment from stakeholders, the cases will be reduced in the next quarter of the project’s implementation.

The CCM, Ms Kawusada said, will be replicated in other communities to sensitize the parents on the need to allow the girls to further their education until such time when they are ready to get married.

United Nation’s Children Fund (UNCEF), Chief field officer in the northern region Clara Dube reiterated the UNICEF’s commitment in partnering with NGOs and other stakeholders to address issues affecting young girls.

The UNICEF chief field officer said the northern region is bedeviled with a lot of issues and child marriage is one of them and that needs to be addressed. “Once we keep the girl child in school, we address a lot issues, issues of maternal mortality, issues of malnutrition and poor quality education among others,” Ms. Dube observed.

She believes that the girl child being in school addresses a lot of problems and commended the department of foreign affairs and development of the government of Canada for supporting the campaign against early child marriage project.

UNICEF, she said, is pleased with the commitment of the Parent Teacher Association, Chiefs and the Tolon district assembly to address the problem.

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