Crux of a teen’s severed marriage    

A GNA Feature by Fatima Anafu- Astanga 

Bolgatanga, June 18 GNA-Marilia (not real name), a teenage girl, was rescued from her intended marriage by the Boys Club of her community, which is one of the strongest men’s advocacy networks in her area and parts of the Upper East Region of Ghana.  

For the young girl at 17, she is still looking for help to find a job that will sustain her and prepare her into adulthood. 

However, after enrolling herself as an apprentice in her area to start her training as a sewist, she is yet to get a startup, and so must borrow an old sewing machine, which she currently shares with its owner who is also an apprentice.  

Marilia said she will need about GHC 5,000 to enable her to get the needed materials as a beginner, which is a prerequisite for her entry as a trainee sewist. 


Teenage Marriages is a human right violation with adverse effects on girl’s health including other socio-economic effects on girls who enter early marriages before they become of age and therefore creating a generational problem for the teenagers themselves and their children. 

In Ghana alone, reports indicate that one in five girls aged 20 to 24 years are married before the age of 18. Regional data from the 2014 Demographic Health Survey (DHS) reveals that in terms of regional records of percentages, the Northern region recorded 39.6 of child marriages, Upper West 37.3, the Upper East 36.1, Eastern Region 27.5, Western 32.9, Central Region 29.5, Ashanti Region 25.9, Volta 25.9 per cent, Bono and Ahafo Regions 23.9, and Greater Accra 18.5 per cent.  


Marilia attended school in Navrongo in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality in the Upper East Region, but because of challenges ranging from financial difficulty by her parents to support her in school, the family decided to give her out for marriage.   

Narrating her story during a follow up interview at her community, Marilia said, “When my marriage was stopped, not because I misconducted myself, but due to the many eyes of the public and outcry of the public, for being under aged at 17 years and too young for marriage which  put me into more trouble”.   She said. 

“I have now opted to learn a trade because my Senior High School results cannot take me further up the educational ladder, so I will need financial support to enable me to achieve my dreams to become a good seamstress,” she said.  

The teenage Muslim girl from Gowrie whose marriage could not come on as scheduled by her family, like other teenage girls in Ghana and other places, go through challenges of abandonment, lack of support from their families when they fail to honour such decisions taken for them. 

“My single mother was earnestly happy that the marriage was the best option because after my father’s death, life had been difficult for her to single handedly support my siblings and I,” she said.  

In her response to how the family has been treating her after the failed marriage, she responded in a positive way. She said it is cordial. 

“My mother has no other option than to admit to the outcry of the community members, friends and activists against teenage marriages as the new law demands,” she said.  

Marilia, however, said things have not been the same, because her plans of learning a trade instead are being challenged by the lack of financial support, contrary to her expectation of life after her curtailed marriage.  


Thankfully, the UNFPA has been pushing for an end of the phenomena through its policies and drives programmes that support evidence-based, girl centred investments that empower girls with information, skills, and services they need to be healthy, educated, and safe to be able to transition into adult women.  

Like other teenagers, Marilia has just ended a marriage that is believed, not right for her because of her health and her future, however interventions that will help her to keep herself out of the same situations call for interventions from the public, philanthropists, and individuals. 

Though the UNFPA may not be supporting livelihood programmes directly, it is in partnership with institutions that can support activities to save young girls like Marilia through their collaborations. 

However, but for the boys and Men’s network, the young girl would have been one of the latest recorded teenage marriages in the region.  

The Network currently works under the Department of Gender, of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) in collaboration with communities, the district Assembly Members, traditional authority, and religious leaders aiming to educate the youth against child marriage, Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and consequences of gender based violent acts. 

Meanwhile, many challenges abound when girls of her kind are rescued from such predicaments and require societal support to come out of the challenges they face. 


While Ghana is making efforts to promote girls’ education, skill development, and providing employment opportunities through government policies, there should be accelerated action to end child marriages in Ghana.  

Mr James Twene, Regional Director of Upper East Regional Department of Women who spoke with the GNA on the plight of the teenage girl, and efforts underway to support victims, reiterated calls for more advocacy to bring sectors together to improve situation of young girls in the country. 

The Bolgatanga Regional Coordinating Council in the Upper East Region is one of the implementing partners on child marriage collaborator of the UNFPA in addressing Child marriage issues and will need to do more to harness the various sectors that support livelihood activities for young girls both married and unmarried with skills and information, increase their knowledge and skills.  

The current UNFPA-supported intervention programmes are in six out of the 15 districts in the Upper East Region and such interventions should be extended to cover all districts and traditional authorities, to stamp their feet in condemning and helping to curtail child marriages.  

The Department of Gender should receive support to upscale its intervention efforts to reach out to the districts that have not yet been covered. This unified approach is vital in eliminating GBV and early marriages, as emphasized in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs), target 5.3.  

The media also plays critical role in highlighting some of the health-related issues and therefore the Communication Advocacy Network (MCAN) is one media network that plays such significant roles in promoting health and social development in Ghana, working with partners to advocate against child marriages in the country.