Naa Danyagiri Walaman I, the Chief of Tokali in the Wa West District of the Upper West Region, has called for the prosecution of perpetrators of child marriage as a measure to addressing the canker.
He said much had been said about the practice yet people were still involved in it and questioned how many people had been prosecuted so far to serve as a deterrent to others.
Naa Walaman made the call during a workshop on early child marriage organised by the Upper West Regional Department of Gender with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Programme at Wechiau in the Wa West District.
It was on the theme: “Early Child Marriage: the Role of Traditional/Religious and Opinion Leaders”.
Naa Walaman said: “The situation of early child marriage in this district is pathetic and must stop whether by hook or crook,” he said, and noted that this could only happen when the people begin to report the cases and the police willing to prosecute such offenders without fear or favour.”
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Christopher Tawiah, the Wa West District Police Commander, noted that elopement was aggravating child marriage in the District.
He said the issue of early child marriage was captured in the Criminal Offences Act and urged the people not to feel shy or afraid of reporting perpetrators to the police.
ASP Tawiah said when such cases of early child marriage were reported to the police they would use the Criminal Offences Act to deal with the person accordingly.
Madam Vielu Margaret, the Wa West District Gender Officer, said the high incidence of child marriage in the District was not only affecting girl’s education but also wasted many girl-child education interventions in the District.
She said some of these interventions were in the form of scholarships to provide the school needs of these girls to ensure that they stayed in school.
Madam Charity Batuure, the Acting Upper West Regional Director of the Department of Gender, said the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG-5), which talked about gender equality, could not be attained if conscious efforts were not made to ensure the education of the girl child was well secured.
She said it was for this reason that the Department of Gender, under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection with support from UNFPA, decided to embark on the community sensitisation workshops to achieve gender equality through the prevention of early/force marriage.
“Our duty as stakeholders is to help save girls who are likely to fall victims of such practice and also to assist them achieve their God given potentials,” Madam Batuure noted.