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Child marriage is a disgrace and shame to Ghana: NGO



A gender based nongovernmental organization in the northern region, the Northern Sector Action on Awareness Center (NORSAAC) has described as disgrace and shameful the spate of child marriage in Ghana.

According to the NGO, parents, guardians and opinion leaders need to join efforts aim at eliminating the practice from communities where it is prevalent in the region. NORSAAC with support from UNICEF is working with stakeholders in two districts, namely, Tolon and Mion districts of the northern region to help curb the menace.

The Executive Director of NORSAAC, Mr Alhassan Mohammed Awal, told Zaa News that Ghana still leads Africa in child marriage, and in Ghana, the northern region with  a staggering 23% of child marriage is second only to the central region.

This he noted, should be a source of worry to everyone because a random sample of 10 girls who are less than 18 years old in Mion and Tolon indicates that, about four girls are given out for marriage before their 18th birth day.

“It is not good for us a country and stakeholders need to join us to challenge such a situation,”  Mr Awal said, adding that if the northern region continues to lag behind the rest of the country, it will mean that Ghana as a whole is not making any significant progress.

Mr Awal who spoke to Zaa News at Tolon on the sidelines of a day’s stakeholder meeting on child marriage called on parents, religious leaders, media and government to join the campaign to end child marriage in Ghana.

He acknowledged efforts are being made by government to combat child marriage through the government’s launch of the campaign against child marriage in April this year which he observed was a good thing.

The various groups at the meeting identified material gain by parents, lack of parental care and control, proper monitoring, ignorance on the part of parents and some programs from the media have been identified as some of causes of early child marriage in the Tolon district. Kayaye, misconception of child rights were also mentioned as other causes of child marriage.

Abukari Azumi, Assembly person for Demabe electoral area said teenage pregnancy is no more common among kayayes but rather more prevalent among school girls. She explained that, some school girls used schooling as an excuse to engage in premarital sex.

To prevent early child marriage among young girls, a unisex group has been formed with monthly contributions to help one another when the need arises.

NORSAAC Gender and Governance officer who is also in charge of “The Let the Girls Smile, Say No to Child Marriage Project,” Mrs Nancy Yiri said the meeting with stakeholders was occasioned after a model household training on advocacy against child marriage and to make them role models against the practice.

The meeting with stakeholders in Tolon, she explained, was to get their perspectives and that of religious leaders and chiefs so that the practice can be eliminated in the area. The perspectives from the two districts will culminate in a position paper on child marriage.

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