By Anthony Adongo Apubeo
Bolgatanga, April 26, GNA – Some men, boys and parents in some districts in the Upper East Region have been trained on key national policies and legal frameworks that speak against the practice of child marriage in Ghana.
The training was to equip the participants who are championing campaigns against child marriage and related practices in their respective communities, with the laws that fight dehumanising practice.
It was to also enable them to know the legal implications when the laws are breached and how they could collaborate with law enforcement agencies and human rights institutions to promote the rights of children and help end child marriage, teenage pregnancy and sexual and gender based violence.
The training was organised by the Department of Gender with funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) through the global joint programme to end child marriage.
It was held on the theme, “End Child Marriage in Ghana: the role of men, boys and parents” and brought together participants from 36 communities selected from the Bongo, Nabdam, Talensi, Bawku West, Builsa South and Kassena-Nankana West Districts.
Mr Jaladeen Abdulai, the Upper East Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), who took the participants through the training noted that one out of five girls in Ghana had been married before they turned 18 years.
He said the phenomenon was not only detrimental to the growth and development of the child involved in the practice but was also a human right abuse that deepened the gender gap and inequalities.
He said although child marriage could happen to both boys and girls, girls were the most affected.
He said there were many policies and laws that stood against the practice and when fully implemented could help curb the canker.
Mr Abdulai noted that over the years, strategic policies including the National Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage 2017 to 2026, Adolescent Reproductive Health Policy (2000), the Justice for Children’s Policy (2015) among others aimed at empowering stakeholders and creating a society without child marriage had been developed.
“Child marriage is illegal in Ghana and there are laws including the 1992 Constitution, the Children’s Act of 1998 and the Criminal Offences Act 29 that criminalise the practice of child marriage and people involved in the practice should be prosecuted,” he said.
He therefore urged the participants to report child marriage cases to relevant authorities such as the chiefs, security agencies and human rights institutions for action.
Mr James Twene, the Upper East Acting Regional Director of the Department of Gender, noted that the project had formed men and boys clubs and Parents Advocacy Movements in
2019 to help fight child marriage, teenage pregnancy and sexual and gender based violence in their respective communities.
He said ending child marriage and other violations required a collective responsibility and noted that it was imperative to empower the participants with the legal knowledge to know the laws against child marriage and also help them not go against the laws in their practice.
Some participants who shared their experiences with the Ghana News Agency noted that the project had empowered the communities to contribute to fighting child marriage, teenage pregnancy and sexual and gender based violence in their communities and called for the project to be scaled up to other communities to achieve maximum impact.