President John Mahama and daughter (Farida)
President John Mahama has expressed concerns over the growing culture of child marriages in Ghana.
According to him, until families become bold and speak about the nefarious conduct, many children will continue to lose their future to the act.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 7th Africa Conference on Sexual and Healthy Right in Accra Wednesday, the President said it is unfortunate that such a practice continues to thrive in Africa.
“There is a culture of silence amongst relatives; often when a child is withdrawn from school or married off into a force marriage, we need to establish systems that alert the authorities.
“…School authorities must watch out. If a girl stops coming to school, ring the alarm bells, try and find out where the child is and alert the authorities as early as possible so that we can prevent them from being married off,” he stated.
He continued: “I, even as a man won’t want to marry a woman I don’t love not to talk about a woman. Why should you be forced to marry somebody you have no affection for, and especially a child. If my daughter is below 18 and somebody attempted to marry her off, I probably will be in prison; I will commit murder”.
Ghana has one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world. On the average, one out of four girls are married before their 18th birthday. The Ghana Demographic Health Survey in 2008 indicated that about 25% of women aged 20-24 were married or were in union before age 18 years. The 2011 MultiIndicator Cluster Survey (MICS) also scores Ghana about 28% for age of marriage before 18 and about 6% for age before 15 years.
At the regional level, previous surveys gave the indication that prevalence is highest in Upper East (50%), followed by Upper West (39%), Northern (36%) and the least prevalence in Greater Accra (11%). In terms of percentages of girls getting married before age 18 years Upper East region leads with 39%, followed by Western region 37% and the least being Greater Accra region with 12%.