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Nungua Underage Marriage: CDS Africa Calls for Urgent Action To Protect Ghana’s Vulnerable Youth

The Africa Center for Democracy and Socioeconomic Development has observed with great concern a recent video of a 12-year-old girl undergoing traditional marriage rites to a 63-year-old GaDangme priest at Nungua in the Greater Accra Region.

This act has sparked outrage and incited calls for immediate action to address the pervasive issue of child marriage in Ghana.

The GaDangme Council, in a statement issued on April 2, 2024, clarified that the relationship between a traditional Ga priest and the 12-year-old girl is a betrothal and not a marriage. While betrothal could involve an underage person, it does not permit the person to start having a sexual relationship with such a child, thereby putting her education at risk and even endangering a difficult childbirth since her organs are not properly developed.

Advocacy and Public Engagement Coordinator at Africa Center for Democracy and Socioeconomic Development, Celestina Damoah (Ms) in an interview with Peace FM News said this distressing case sheds light on a deeply entrenched problem that continues to rob countless children of their childhood, education, and future prospects.

According to her, child marriage is a violation of basic human rights and a significant barrier to achieving gender equality and sustainable development. It perpetuates cycles of poverty, inequality, and gender-based violence, denying children, particularly girls, the opportunity to reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to society.

The Children’s Act, 1998, enjoins that “no person shall force a child (age less than 18 years) to be betrothed, to be the subject of a dowry transaction, or to be married.” Chapter Five of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana also proscribes the marriage of children, as it infringes on their fundamental human rights,” she said.

She believes that, as a think tank, they believe in ensuring that all girls and boys complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes, we unequivocally condemn this act and call on the government, other civil society organizations, religious leaders, and all stakeholders to come together and tackle the root causes of child marriage and implement measures to protect children from exploitation and harm.

Damoah (Ms) said concerted efforts are needed to strengthen and enforce laws and policies that prohibit child marriage, provide support services for survivors and their parents or guardians, and challenge harmful cultural norms and practices that perpetuate the practice.

She said the center cannot turn a blind eye to the plight of millions of children forced into marriage. It is imperative that we take decisive action to end child marriage once and for all and ensure that every child can live free from exploitation and harm.

CDS Africa believes that efforts to end child marriage must be comprehensive and multi-faceted, addressing the underlying factors that drive families to marry off their daughters at a young age.

Education, economic empowerment, access to healthcare, and legal protections are essential components of any strategy to prevent child marriage and support survivors.

As Ghana works towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, ending child marriage must be prioritized as a critical component of achieving gender equality, promoting human rights, and building a more just and equitable society for all.

Source: Prince Baffour Asamoah/Peace FM Newsroom

 

 



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