Tuesday, September 1, 2009

‘Don’t force children into marriage’

‘Don’t force children into marriage’
Daily Graphic, Tuesday, 1st September, 2009, Page 11, Gender and Children
Maxwell Adomilla Akalaare

A Senior Investigator of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mr Mohammed Tiamiyu, has reminded parents that it is a criminal offence for them to force their daughters aged below 18 year into marriage. He made the statement at a day’s sensitation forum on domestic violence organised by the Department of Women at Palengu in the Talensi/Nabdam District in the Upper East Region.

Mr. Tiamiyu re-emphasised that the 1992 Constitution, as well as provisions of the Criminal Code, the Domestic Violence Law and the Children’s Act, protected all children, particularly the girl-child, against such practices that constituted abuse of their rights, and warned that the Commission and the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service would not hesitate to prosecute perpetrators of such acts.

He said the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) policy made it mandatory for every child to be in school, adding that by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Children’s Act, a child is a person below age 18.

The acting Upper East Regional Director of the Department of Women, Madam Mercy Atule, said the country ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) was being hampered by various forms of domestic violence perpetrated against the vulnerable group, especially women and children.

She said since women formed more than 50 per cent of the nation’s population, the nation’s development would be hampered if women were not empowered with the needed resources and given the needed opportunities to participate in the development process. She [expressed remorse at] the cultural set up in some parts of the country gave undue advantage to men to discriminate against women and violate their rights.

Madam Atule explained that domestic violence referred to in homes and communities that had physical, traumatic and psychological effects on the victims. She said the regional office of OVVSU recorded a high incidence of domestic violence and forced marriages within the Pelungu community, and had therefore, decided to educate and sensitise them to their negative effects through the forum.

In speech read on her behalf, the Talensi/Nabadam District Chief Executive, Mrs Vivian Anafo, advised parent to desist from hiding under the pretence of poverty to forcibly send the daughter to the southern part of the country to work as female porters (Kayayee).

As part of the programme, a drama was performed by the Palengu Young Drama Group on the effects of gild-child elopement on education and the community as a whole.

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