Tumu, (U/W), July 26, GNA – Mr Sharif-Deen Ibrahim, Sissala East District Director, Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, has expressed worry that the existing child protection laws are not translating into proper care for children in the country.
He said this has led to high levels of child marriages and other forms of child abuse in the country.
Mr Ibrahim said this during a two-day “End Child Marriage” campaign training session organized by ActionAid in Tumu in the Sissala East District of the Upper West Region.
The 30 young male and female participants were drawn from the Sissala East and Sissala West Districts.
Mr Ibrahim said a child given out for marriage at young age had a less chance to participate meaningfully in social activities.
He said poverty and the weakness of protective structures are some of the key factors underlying child protection violations in the country.
Mrs Abiba Nibaradun, Programme Officer, ActionAid- Ghana, said even though it is unlawful for a child to marry, Ghana’s 2010 Population and Housing Census revealed that out of 3,254,007 children within 12 to 17 years old group, 5.4 per cent representing a total of 176,103 children were married.
She said statistics from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) showed that prevalence of child marriage is highest in the Upper East Region with a percentage of 39.2, Western Region- 36.7 per cent, followed closely by the Upper West Region with 36.3 percent.
The rates of child marriages in other regions of Ghana are Central Region 31.2 per cent, Ashanti 30.5 per cent, Volta 27.3 per cent, Brong Ahafo 29.1 per cent, Northern 27.4 per cent, Eastern 27.2 per cent and Greater Accra 12.2 per cent.
Mrs Nibaradun said evidence from the “Girls Not Bride” campaign showed that girls who marry before the age of 18 were more likely to experience domestic violence within marriages than females who marry later.
Affected girls are often at risk of sexual, physical, psychological and economic violence, she said.
Mrs Nibaradun said the aim of the “End Child Marriage” campaign that is being sponsored by UNICEF was to reduce the incidence of child marriage and promote children’s protection in the target districts.
The objective, she said, is to build the capacity of girls aged 12 to 17 years to claim their rights, resist child marriages and focus on their education.
Corporal Clement Antwi, Investigator at the Sissala East District Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, appealed to parents to use the true ages of their children when registering them unto the voters register or health insurance.
He said this will enable DOVVSU to have the right documents to prove the age of the child during investigations of cases of abuse.
Mrs Rudkin Bainge, Sissala East District Public Health Nurse, who took the participants through the health risk associated with child marriages, said sexual indiscipline among youth could lead to the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases that could destroy their lives and future.