Community and opinion leaders in the Greater Accra Region have resolved to end child marriage in their respective communities.
They resolved to work hard to end the practice which is depriving the girl child of education and plunging her into immeasurable abuse and suffering.
The stakeholders made these resolutions at a meeting organized by Action Aid Ghana in Adenta, as part of efforts to end child marriage in their respective communities.
The stakeholders, including religious leaders, teachers, social workers, assembly members were drawn from Adenta, Madina, Ashaiman and Shai Osudoku districts, all in the Greater Accra Region.
Action Aid Ghana in 2015 launched the “End Child Marriage Project” funded by UNICEF.
The stakeholders declared that the fight against child marriage is a shared responsibility involving all stakeholders and there is the need for committees to be instituted in the various communities to check and report cases to appropriate authorities.
“Effective and efficient collaboration with stakeholders including religious authorities, opinion leaders, teachers, the social workers and the Police is a sure way to expeditiously deal with the phenomenon while protecting victims as prescribed by law,” they noted.
Madam She-Vera Anzagira, the Project Coordinator of the End Child Marriage, said with the pervasiveness of the phenomenon, there was urgent need for religious and opinion leaders to be equipped as a major step in dealing with the practice.
Citizens’ engagement through the sensitization of opinion leaders, she noted, was necessary for further education at the community level where acts of child marriages are perpetrated.
Mr Alexis Dery, the Executive Director of the Centre for Development Initiative, said the legal framework in child protection provides a structure that ensures that persons who perpetrate acts against children were dealt with according to the full extent of the law.
He said community and opinion leaders were duty bound to report incidence of child marriage, as that would help in the eradication of the practice which has been outlawed under the Children’s Act (Act 560).
He said there were seemingly boundless laws that protect children from abuse, neglect and violence in the country, adding that implementation of such laws were rather awful.
Empowering religious and opinion leaders, he explained, was appropriate since they live in the communities with influences that can ensure change.
“Collaboration among these stakeholders gives them the primary mandate to be part of the problem and ultimately the solutions” he added.