SILDEP initiates project to help address child marriages in Upper West

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Tumu (U/W), Nov. 16, GNA – Social Initiative for Literacy and Development Programme (SILDEP), a non-governmental organisation, is implementing a five-year project dubbed “Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA)”.

This is to help address issues of child marriages in the Upper West Region.

Other concerns the project seeks to address include commercial sexual exploitation of children and child sex tourism, sexual violence and abuse as well as the promotion of access to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

SILDEP is implementing the project in collaboration with Plan International – Ghana with funding support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the successful implementation of the Girl Power Project (GPP).

Mr Jonas Tia, the Programmes Manager of SILDEP, during a presentation at a stakeholders meeting in Tumu in the Sissala East District, said sexual violence and abuse is a serious problem in the country.

He said the practice was frequently directed toward the vulnerable youth who lacked the economic and social status to resist such temptations.

“Adolescents and young women in particular experience abuses in the form of violence, rape and sexual assault and sexual exploitation, at home, at school and in the work place”, he said.

Mr Tia said data from the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service showed that sexual violence was on the increase in Ghana.

He said for instance that defilement cases reported rose from 713 in 2005 to 1,175 cases in 2011, and compulsory marriages increased from nine to 16 per cent while sodomy cases went up from one to 12 per cent within the same period.

He said a study conducted by Defense for Children International (DCI) – Ghana estimated that 17.9 per cent of respondents had experienced various forms of child labour whiles 8.0 per cent girls have also been raped before.

“Indecent assault was 39.8 per cent, incest 5.4 per cent, compulsory marriage 11.7 per cent and abduction 18.5 per cent”, the study revealed.
For economic violence, 29.8 per cent said they had experienced child labour before while 18.1 per cent had also been sexually exploited.

Mr Moses Dramani Luri, Executive Director of SILDEP, said tackling child marriage is a strategic way to advance women’s rights and empowerment in several areas, ranging from health, education, work, freedom from violence and participation in public life.

“In order to do so, it is essential that all relevant stakeholders – including community and religious leaders, school teachers and administrators, health care workers, police and the judiciary, government, media, parents and the youth to understand and commit to their role in ending child marriages”, he said.

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