Participants at a two-day workshop in Sunyani have appealed to Parliament to amend some portions of the Criminal Code to increase the age of consent to sex from 16 to 18.
The amendment, they explained would be in line with the 18 years minimum legal age of marriage as enshrined in the 1992 Ghana’s Fourth Republican Constitution.
The appeal formed part of a 12-point Communiqué signed by 16 of the 40 participants, and issued at the end of the workshop organized by the Sunyani Municipal Office of the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE).
The participants, drawn from the Sunyani Municipality and Sunyani West District Assembly, comprised chiefs, media, Assembly-members, as well as representatives from the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service and other stakeholders, attended.
The workshop was on the theme “Stop Child Early and Forced Marriages (CEFMs) Now.”
The communiqué indicated the need for Parliament to review laws on child protection, to make them more punitive to deter “irresponsible people from engaging in this awful behaviour”.
It cited extreme poverty, obnoxious cultural and religious practices, illiteracy and gender inequalities among the major factors of CEFMs in the Brong-Ahafo Region and Ghana as a whole.
The communiqué, therefore, entreated government to pursue policies that could empower Ghanaian parents financially, to take full responsibility of their children’s welfare and development.
It urged the central government and the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to deliver on their commitment to improve gender equality, by implementing pragmatic policies that could end practice of the menace, to transform the lives of thousands of girls in the country.
The communiqué stressed the need for government and development partners to adequately resource state institutions like the NCCE, the Department of Births and Deaths, DOVVSU and other girl-child welfare stakeholder organisations, to enable them to discharge their responsibilities effectively.
It also called on all meaningful Ghanaians, law enforcement agencies, policy makers, child-right advocates and all stakeholders to stand up against CEFMs and all forms of abuse against children in Ghana.