Child Marriage in Ghana It is not difficult to apply laws on child marriage

Poverty, parental and community pressure and outmoded traditional practices the survey said are contributory factors impeding the fight against child marriage.

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Poverty, parental and community pressure and outmoded traditional practices the survey said are contributory factors impeding the fight against child marriage. play

Poverty, parental and community pressure and outmoded traditional practices the survey said are contributory factors impeding the fight against child marriage.

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OPINION: Last Wednesday, the Coalition of the Rights of the Child released a chilling survey that said child marriage constituted 25 percent of human rights abuses in Ghana.

The claims in the survey report is not new. It is a phenomenon as a nation we have been grappling with for years, and series of laws enacted to stop child marriage are not enforced.

What is perhaps shocking in the report is the fact that child marriage is becoming a national issue.

It used to be an occurrence in the Upper East, Upper West and the Northern Regions. But according to the report, child marriage in the Western, Brong-Ahafo, and Central regions as well as parts of the Eastern Region are assuming alarming proportions.

Poverty, parental and community pressure and outmoded traditional practices the survey said are contributory factors impeding the fight against child marriage.

Poverty cannot be eliminated. At best, it can be reduced. We must not allow parents to force the girl child, who is supposed to be in school like the boy child, into marriage.

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If parents cannot afford school fees and learning materials, the state must intervene. I, like many others, hold the view that education in basic schools must be free and compulsory.

Families with educated women as the head manage resources well, and  educated girls are more likely to use contraceptives and seek antenatal care.

Communal pressure that often coerces parents to give the girl child into marriage could be reduced if the child is sent to school and encouraged to be equals with the boy child.

The first family have at separate events voiced rejection for child marriage.

First Lady Lordina Mahama last month called for help to deal with child marriage, signalling that the phenomenon maybe out of control.

"The future of our children is very important and we must ensure that girls are allowed to go to school instead of being married off at tender ages,” she said on a tour of the Brong Ahafo, one of the regions child marriage is growing.

"We hold it a duty as parents to support our children to climb the academic ladder and become responsible members in society before giving them away in marriage,” she added.

President John Mahama in a similar comment at the 7th Africa Conference on Sexual and Health and Rights in Accra said: "There's a culture of silence among relatives often when a child is withdrawn from school or a child is married off into a forced marriage. And we need to establish systems that alert the authorities.”

But until we apply the laws governing child marriage to the latter irrespective of whose ox is gored, child marriage will become endemic.

Political parties must tell voters ways they intend to deal with child marriage. It must feature on presidential debates.

Child rights activists must keep pushing for total elimination of child marriage.

But our efforts to eliminate child marriage may come to not if we do not elect more women to parliament.

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