Mrs. Melody Darkey addressing the Muslim women
Personnel from the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) have organized a sensitization program on child marriage for residents of Nima and Mamobi in Accra.
The deputy director in charge of DOVVSU, DSP Lydia Osei Agyapong who addressed the women said child marriage like any form of violence, degrades the girl child’s dignity as a person , violates her human rights and it is deadly.
She said this practice has robbed millions of girls of their childhood, rights and dignity in the country.
“Child marriage is a harmful practice, a violation of human rights that disproportionately affects girls and their rights to education, health, security, choice and often leads to social isolation and violence.”
Adding, she said such children are often between the ages of 15 years to 18 and with low levels of education and they stand a greater risk of domestic violence and sexual abuse from their older husbands.
She stressed that the police will not hesitate to apprehend any person who engages in the act when the case is reported to them.
She also urged members within the Zongo communities where such practices are considered common, to always inform the police.
She entreated the women to encourage their young girls to have access to post primary education since that is a key to success.
A representative from Women in Law and Development (WILDAF), Mrs Melody Darkey who gave a presentation of the overview and effect of child marriage, posited that any person who marries a young girl below the age of 16 years commits defilement and is punishable by law.
She said when the girl is above 16 years, her supposed husband will be charged for rape and this also attracts a jail term by the courts.
“Maltreating women and children is also against the law and any person found culpable will be prosecuted.”
To buttress her points, she averred that every child has the right to education, healthcare and others and the moment a child is denied his or her education and healthcare when she / he is sick, based on religious grounds, that person will be punished.
Madam Shafaatu Alhassan Daud, a teacher who shared her experience on child-marriage from the Muslim women perspective urged her fellow women to make it a point to educate their children.
She advised them to have fewer children and make sure that their girl-children get better education and not to neglect them because of poverty.
By Linda Tenyah-Ayettey