CHILD MARRIAGE IN GHANA
Ghana in its peace consists of several ethnic groups each with its unique cultural practices in relation to their tradition. From the puberty rites which promotes chastity to the female genital mutilation which has been abolished due to its bizarre and inhumane aspects and also to the child marriages which there have been a solution to abolish it but never been enforced. The raising statistics in child marriages shows that the country went to sleep after being the first sovereign nation in Africa to rectify the United Nations conventions of the child which called for the abolishment of traditional practices which is prejudice to the health of children. The convention super headed by the UN is a human rights treaty which sets off the civil, political, economical, social, health and cultural rights of children. It was adapted of November 20 1989 but yet Ghana still has one of the highest childhood marriages prevalence in the world.
Child marriage is where a child is married off formal or informal to a union before reaching the consent age of 18.child marriage in the country is not only a function of cultural practices but also poverty and lack of education which fuel to sustain this practice. It all goes hand in hand. It is a violation of the fundamental human rights of the girl child and an act where their childhood years are been snatched away. It is mostly practiced in the upper east and upper west which they mostly attribute it to their cultural practice and the western region which attributes’ it to the poverty. After the many treaties signed by the Ghanaian government to end child marriages there are not enough advocacy to abolish it. Young girls are being sold off like cattle’s into marriages to spouses far older than them. All of these marriages they are not physically and psychologically prepared for.
Most of these young girls are being abused by their spouses and those who couldn’t take it any more of the abuse and the responsibilities that come with marriage flee their various villages to the capital cities to seek greener pastures but are caught on the streets of Accra hawking, their future bleaks likely to lead to poverty. It is stated in the Ghanaian human rights law that forcing a chid against her will to get married is a crime but yet it does go on as this girls are less educated and no nothing about how the law system goes. There was a situation where a young lady was locked in the booth of a car in chains to be sent back to her village after she fled and was saved by the police at a checkpoint which created a big media coverage I expected to go on but it ended there. I ask myself what then happens to those unlucky ones who haven’t been saved by the police. What channel has the government taken to prevent and protect this girls but yet they are seen in big suits still signing more treaties under the UN vowing to end it but nothing is been done and these little girls are still suffering. These girls are prevented from getting an education and carry pregnancies which their bodies are not fully developed for. Some die at child birth or get complications during child birth. How long will it continue to happen? Will the ignorance of this Ghanaian leaders cause the future of the girls? How then will these girls be stopped from being turned into brides?
I wonder when the government will pay attention to ending this practice as ending child marriages preserves a Childs childhood, promote their right to an education reduce their exposure to abuse and violence and to break the chain of poverty that is passed down from generation to generation. Delaying marriage and childbirth can further protect the girls from the risk of infection and death during childbirth and debilitating medical conditions like obstetric fistula.
What then is the next step? What measures will be taken? Will the chain of child marriage continue? The Ghanaian government should rise and protect these girls as they play a role in the future of the country as am just a West African writer with only a writing mind and hand.