The World Vision International-Ghana has said the challenge of child marriage could linger on if nothing is done to curtail the situation.
The organization is of the view that the lack of prosecution of culprits and perpetrators of the act, could go further to undermine calls from civil society organizations on government to prescribe severe punishment for those who engage in the act.
A Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator at the World Vision International Ghana, Madam Agnes Obeng, explained that stakeholders must device appropriate measures to tackle the menace.
Madam Obeng who was sharing a research finding conducted by the WVG on child marriage at a workshop held in Accra for faith-based leaders said the national child marriage rate still stands at 27.2 percent.
She said the Northern, Upper West and Upper East Regions recorded the highest of 39.6, 37.3 and 36.1 percent, respectively, followed by Central and Eastern with 29.5 and 27.5 percent in that order.
The Ashanti and Volta Regions both scored 25.9 percent each whereas Brong Ahafo and Greater Accra Regions registered the least numbers of 23.9 and 18.5 percent.
The workshop was attended by representatives from both Christian and Islamic communities, among other stakeholders, to help build their knowledge to enable them serve as voices for young girls by ending the socio-cultural practices through their work.
To complement this, 54 selected faith leaders have been trained as facilitators of hope to child protection, 413 faith leaders and their spouses empowered in 16 districts where WVG operated and 90 community child protection communities across Ghana set up.
Other causes which has made the legal framework ineffective according to her, was the stigma, causing families to discontinue reported cases, lack of child tribunals at the district levels to handle neglect cases, lack of access to the services of the Domestic Violence and Victim’s Support Unit (DoVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service in the districts and weak linkage between state and child protection departments.
“Parents or guardians and sometimes girls agreed to marry because of prestige, basic needs or escape from poverty and that potentially leads to discontinuity of girl’s child education, domestic violence, child labour, maternal and child mortality challenges and lack of employment” Madam Obeng added.
Madam Irene Sawerteh, also of WVG, disseminating the content of another research conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Social Policy Studies, University of Ghana, revealed that 15 million girls got married before their 18th birthday.
About 130 million girls between ages 15 and 45 years had experienced Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), whilst one out of every ten girls had been subjected to forced sexual intercourse and one in every three adolescent girls between 15 and 19 years had been domestically abused.
By Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe