Plan International Ghana condemns forced marriages

Accra, – Plan International Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation, has condemned the practice of child, early and forced marriages and called for their prohibition.

The organisation believed that the minimum age for marriage should be 18 and should apply equally to both men and women regardless of any parental or judicial consent.

MrAhensahAsum-Kwarteng, the Acting Country Director of Plan International Ghana, said this on Thursday at this year’s National Girls’ Camp in Accra on the theme: Empowering Girls to Thrive, the Responsibility of All.

The four-day Camp was to build the capacity of young girls from selected schools in the Northern, Eastern and the Upper West regions, using Plan International’s champions of change curriculum.

Research revealed that every minute, 30 girls across the world become child brides, everyday more than 41,000 girls marry before the age of 18 with one in three of most recently married child brides being in sub-Saharan African countries, including Ghana.

MrAsum-Kwarteng said the statistics also revealed that, every year thousands of young girls in Africa fall in the cold hands of death because they are married off at an age when their tender bodies cannot sustain the trauma of pregnancy and delivery.

Plan International believes that, all children adolescents and young people without discrimination are entitled to comprehensive sexuality education to gain knowledge, explore values and develop the skills they need to make conscious, healthy and respectful choices about relationships and sexuality.

MrAsum-Kwarteng said Plan Ghana recognised that education was a powerful tool for preventing child, early and forced marriage, adding that girls who benefited from quality education were less likely to marry while they were still children.

He called on government and stakeholders to ensure that all girls, including married girls, could access and complete primary and secondary education in line with the commitment to the 2030 Agenda.

According to him, gender-based violence remained predominant, which affected girls and women the most, adding that the causes of gender-based violence were the discriminatory social norms and unequal power dynamics between men and women.

He said the Sustainable Development Goals set some objectives as to how to tackle gender inequalities by 2030, stressing that the African Union had launched the “Fight against Early and Forced Marriage Campaign,” where all member states have to abide by and report on.

MrAsum-Kwarteng said the organisation had instituted the Girls Advocacy Alliance Project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Netherlands to economically empower girls and young women and free them from all forms of gender-based violence.

MrsBenedictaTenniSeidu, the Deputy Director, Basic Education Division, Ghana Education Service, advised young girls to stay away from sex and report any advances made at them by men to their parents.

MrsSeidu urged the girls to avoid love for materials things, since such practices could lead them to pregnancy by irresponsible men and truncate their education.

She urged parents not to use their children as collateral for marriage because of poverty adding; It is a crime to force a child to marry at a tender age.

Mr Ronald Strikker, the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, urged government to prioritise girl-child education to enable girls to have access to education to be successful in life.

He stated that Netherlands would continue to support the campaign against forced and early marriages in the county and called on government to ensure effective enforcement of laws governing early marriages.

Source: Ghana News Agency