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22 July 2017

Polygamy rife in Brong-Ahafo Region

Many girls from 10 to 15 years are into polygamous marriages in Banda, Jaman North and Asutifi South Districts of the Brong-Ahafo Region.

These marriages were orchestrated by parents of the victims and close relatives, ostensibly to preserve traditional values and heritage, according to investigations by the Ghana News Agency (GNA).  

The husbands of the victims are mostly from 45 to 65 years and many of them are already married to two or more wives with children and grandchildren.

Many of the marriage rites of the girls were are held in secret.

These came to light at training workshops for 30 Child Labour volunteers at Sampa in Jaman North District, Banda-Ahenkro in Banda District and Hwidiem in the Asutifi South District.

Each of the 10 volunteers, were selected from the communities where child labour, trafficking and forced marriage are rife.

They were chosen from Asiri, Kabile, Duadaso, Adadiem, and Jimini-Zongo in Jaman North, Akanyakrom, Saase, Nsuo-Ano, Bui and Biema in Banda and Subriso, Woromumuso, Nkasiem, Amanfrom and Obengkrom in Asutifi South.

The training workshop was organised by MIHOSO International, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in line with a year’s project the organisation is implementing in the three districts.

The project being funded by STAR Ghana is titled: “MIHOSO/STAR- Ghana: Responding to child labour, trafficking and forced marriage,” is aimed at ensuring that the practices are either alleviated or reduced to the barest minimum by the end of May 2018.

Some of the volunteers who spoke to the GNA on condition of anonymity said child marriage was rife in the districts because of poverty and tradition.

They expressed discomfort that girls who resisted such marriages were either molested by their parents or were stigmatised.

The volunteers said it was a taboo for a girl to fail to go into the marriage and the only way for her to escape was for to run away from the community.

As change agents, the volunteers observed that the task to end the practice was not easy and therefore rallied the support of District Security Councils in the project implementing areas.

Mr Pontius N Ninwiiri, the Project Co-ordinator of MIHOSO, said the debilitating effects of child marriage were enormous and appealed to the District Assemblies and community members to help control the practice.

He said child marriage was a serious offence punishable by law, and warned the perpetrators to desist from the act or be prosecuted when caught.

Mr Ninwiiri said the practice had caused psychological trauma of many girls and impeded their growth and development.

He advised couples to settle their differences amicably instead of going in for divorce, which could ruin the future of their children.

The volunteers were taken through child rights curriculum, child rights issues, conflict management, group dynamics, community register keeping and basic laws protecting children.

They would also support the formation of District Child Protection Panels in each of the three project implementing areas in accordance with section 17 of the Children’s Act 560.

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