General News of Sunday, 23 July 2017
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has started investigations into a case of forced/child marriage at Kanshegu in the Savulugu Municipality in the Northern region.
A 13-year-old student of the Kanshegu Junior High School, Salifu Rahama, had her education truncated when she was forced to marry Majeed Wumbei believed to be in his early 40s.
Salifu Rahama, who will turn 14 in September 2017, is said to have been betrothed to Majeed, a father of three, the very day she was born.
All efforts by some community members and teachers of Rahama’s former school to prevail upon the family to rescind its decision and allow her to continue her education fell on deaf ears.
Rahama, in her efforts to escape the forced marriage, run away from the family to Techiman.
However, pressure from her family compelled her to return home. A day after her return, she was bundled to Libiga, a small farming community west of Kanshegu, to join her husband.
According to Rahama’s friends, the young girl is traumatised and does not speak to anyone in her new home.
Rahama is looking for the least opportunity to run away from the man to enable her to continue her education.
Because of this, she is currently being held incommunicado by her husband. Her friends are not allowed to visit her and to terminate any form of communication, her mobile phone was taken from her.
The case was reported to CHRAJ which immediately started investigations into it. The District Director of CHRAJ in Savelugu, Mahamoud Ahmed Tijani, pledged that the commission preparedness ensures that the girl regains her freedom to enable her to continue her education.
“We will go to the field and find out from the school and the family concerning the girl so that we can trace and see how we can help get her back to school. Forced marriage is one of the human rights abuses in the system and the commission does not condone such abuses of the girl child,” he stated. However, after two weeks of investigations, the commission does not seem to be making headway.
Tijani said the commission, in its investigations, visited the family of Rahama and the head of the family, Salifu Yidana, the Imam of Kanshegu and biological father of the girl, confirmed the incident and promised to bring the girl back.
However, few days after CHRAJ’s encounter with the family, a wedding ceremony was organised on Sunday, July 16 to climax the marriage.
The commission decided to file an official complaint at the Savelugu police Station on Monday, July 17, 2017.
The police visited the family of Rahama to invite Adam Dawuda, uncle of Rahama, who is at the centre of the issue, for questioning but the police were, however, told that Dawuda had left for Ejura in the Ashanti region where he farms.
Yidana vowed never to allow any member of the family to be questioned by the police on the matter since, according to him, the marriage had been formally contracted and could not be reversed.
“When you [Tijani] came here the other time I told you we have concluded the process so what do you want again? She has been married off and there is nothing anyone can do about it,” he was quoted as saying.
The police said they will soon invite the husband of Rahama for questioning as part of efforts to rescue her.
Some community members, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said forced marriage was a common practice in Rahama’s family and that Rahama was not the first victim to be forced into marriage.
World vision promises to provide support
World Vision International, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has promised to do everything humanly possible to support the police rescue the girl.
In an interview with the Programmes Manager of World Vision, Francis Guma, said they will support the victim’s education if she is rescued.
The NGO launched a campaign in Tamale early this month to end child marriage. The campaign is aimed at contributing 50 per cent to the reduction of child marriage in Ghana by 2021.