Traditional and religious leaders at the Zorko community in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region have pledged their commitment to help end child marriage in the area.
The bodies, which included the branch of the Presbyterian Church, the Christ Apostolic Church International, the Catholic Church, and the Muslem Community, among others, pledged that they would infuse the need to end child marriage in their sermons.
They made the pledge at a community durbar organised at Zorko by Action Aid Ghana to encourage the people to stop child marriage.
Two year campaign
The Project Co-ordinator of Action Aid Ghana (AAG) in charge of the End Child Marriage Project, Ms Abena Anem-Adjei said the organisation, with funding from UNICEF, was implementing the two-year campaign project in 12 districts and 120 communities in the Greater Accra, Brong Ahafo, Upper East and Upper West regions.
The project is aimed at making a significant impact on the areas of reducing socio-cultural practices that promotes child marriage and help children to acquire knowledge, skills and the right attitude to resist child marriage and stay at school.
She explained that since the project began in 2015, AAG had been engaging actively with young groups, giving them education to promote their rights and to also support them to champion on issues affecting them.
“We have also been sensitising traditional, religious and opinion leaders to use their authority to abolish and modernise some of the cultural and religious practices that expose girls to early marriages and to strongly declare their stand against child marriage,” she said.
The Senior Programme Officer of AAG, Mr John Abaa entreated parents not to hesitate to report the issues of child marriage to child protection agencies such as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit and Department of Social Welfare and Community Development for redress.
“We are making progress towards ending child marriage as people are becoming aware of the negative effects of child marriage and supporting us to rescue girls from child marriage,” he said.
The Catechist of the Presbyterian Church of Zorko-Kudorugu, Mr John Atareyuresaid the Bible frowned upon parents giving out small girls for marriage.
He said the church would work hard to help end the problem.
Malam Bashiru Ayoreyesia of the Moslem community said God cherished happy families and that could be built when the partners, engaged in marriage relationship, were mature enough to take concrete decisions to support the family.
He said based on that, the mosque would be used as a platform to preach against child marriage and to ensure that only mature people got engaged in it.
Ms Helen Adongo, an officer of the Social Welfare and Community Development, cautioned parents not to give out their daughters below 18 years for marriage as that was against the 1992 Constitution and the Children’s Act.
She said many parents forced their daughters into marriage when they became pregnant and warned that such a practice must stop.
She said pregnant girls should be assisted to take good care of their babies and continue with their education.
Naba Victor Adendaa Awamyelum, the Chief of Zorko - Kodorogu and the Queenmother for the area, Pognaba Ade-Ana Awamyelum, said it paid more to cater for the education of the girl-child and impressed upon parents to give them special attention.