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High prevalence of child marriage in Ghana

By
Christabel Addo/ Bridget Denteh

Accra, July 7, GNA –
Twenty-one per cent of girls below 18 years in Ghana are engaged in child
marriage while the rate stands at 31 per cent in the three Northern regions,
the Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC) noted on Wednesday.  

The HRAC described
the development as worrying and called for robust efforts to mitigate it as it
said it was illegal for children to marry below the legal age.     

Ms Wendy Abbey, the
Acting Executive Director of the HRAC, said this in Accra when the HRAC joined
the Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health to deliberate on a policy dubbed: “Gaps
in Sexual and Reproductive Health Right in Ghanaian law”.       

Ms Abbey said Sexual
and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) were recognised by a range of national
policies but women and girls continued to suffer from limited access to sexual
education, abortion services and contraception.

Despite the policies
on SRHR in Ghana, the Acting Executive Director said, gaps such as lack of
national policy on SRHR, and lack of sexual education for children and
adolescents hampered the full realisation of the SRHR in the Ghanaian concept.

The event was thus,
aimed at making recommendations to government to adopt a single national SRHR
policy to empower doctors, lawyers, and law enforcement officers to understand
the rights of the people they interact with.

She called for a
redrafting of the abortion law to reduce the increasing rate of unwanted
pregnancies as well as teenage pregnancy.

She said: “forty
percent of girls living in the rural areas get married before age eighteen as
compared to twenty- percent in the urban area, she said blaming it on poverty
and lack of education.

Dr John Kingsley
Krugu, Executive Director of Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana, urged the Ministry
of Gender and Social Protection to fuel the implementation of the National
Strategic plan to end Child Marriage.  

Dr Krugu recommended
that the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection with the Ministry of
Education mount programmes to educate adolescents about sexual and reproductive
health in schools. 

He urged the
Ministry of Education to ensure that leaders of all educational institutions
allowed pregnant girls stay in school as long as they could before delivery.

In an interview with
Mr William Kwesi Sabi, the Vice Chair of Parliamentary Committee on Health
said: “the nation would lose what the youth could have done to help in the
development of the nation if the issue of child marriage is not curtailed”.

He pleaded that the
strategies that have been discussed be implemented to build a better society and
advised parents to desist from forcing their children into early marriages as
such acts affected the future of the child and society at large.

Miss Abbey expressed
gratitude to all who contributed to the program and pledged to follow
parliamentary proceedings on the new additions to the SRHR national policy
amongst other recommendations that required government intervention.

The Human Rights
Advocacy Centre (HRAC) is a not-for-profit, independent, non-partisan, research
and advocacy organization set up to advance and protect human rights in
Ghana. 

Established in 2008,
the HRAC was set up by Nana Oye Lithur, the former Minister for Gender,
Children and Social Protection.

GNA

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