Scores of Girls marry before 18

Statistics by the Department of Social Welfare show that nine out of every 10 girls marry before they reach age 18 and one out of every five girls marry by the age of 18 in Ghana.

Also, about 14 million girls under age 18 marry every year and out of this 1,166,666 marry each month globally.

Out of this number, 269,230 marry in a week while 38,461 girls marry in a day. The data revealed that children, especially girls, who go into early marriages are forced into it, a phenomenon the international community describes as child early marriage or force marriage (CEFM).

The study showed that to stop the practice 186 countries including Ghana, under the universal declaration of human rights convention, appended their signatures in 1948 to ensure that children are allowed to reach their adult age before getting married.

These were made known during a community durbar and focused group discussions organized by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) at Bazua near Bawku in the Upper East Region to deliberate and come out with provisions that would help stop the practice.

Madam Theresa Akugri, Bawku Municipal Director of the Department of Social Welfare, said countries with the largest rates of child early force marriage were found in Europe.

She mentioned the percentages as Turkey with 14, Ukraine 10 and that about 10 per cent of adolescents married before the age of 18 with about 18 per cent of such cases recorded for Britain and France.

Madam Akugri said some African countries described as the largest promoters of child early and forced marriages included Niger,Chad, Mali,Guinea,Central Africa Republic and Malawi.

Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have the second highest rate of child early and forced marriages with 14.3 million girls in the region becoming child brides.

Madam Akugri outlined the causes of the practice and said they were as a result of poor gender equity, poverty, negative traditional or religious practices, failure to enforce the law, conflicts, disaster among others.

She said since the practice was becoming a threat to development of girls in Ghana and the African continent as a whole, the NCCE in collaboration with other departments, agencies, institutions and community based organizations have vowed to take action to end the CEFM in Ghana so that girls could stay in school and fulfill their potentials.

Madam Akugri called for positive action from the government and stakeholders to work around increasing girls enrollment in school to reduce the frequency of child early and forced marriages.

Mr Roland Azumah, Bawku Municipal Director for NCCE, called on parents to see the interest of their children as paramount and not to force them into early marriages.

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