Community threatens girl child education campaigner with ‘ritual sacrifices’

Two families from Bisskani community in Wa East District have threatened the District Girl Child Education Officer with fowl ritual sacrifices for working to free many schoolgirls from early and forced marriages in the area.

The Girl Child Education Officer had met the two families, the chief and elders in the community, in an attempt to rescue a 15-year-old primary five girl who had been given out for marriage at the expense of her education.

The families, who were dissatisfied at the outcome of the meeting with the rescue team and the community leaders, were reported to have met secretly to perform the blood rituals.

A witness to the ritual told education officials that the aggrieved families slaughtered a fowl to invoke the gods of their village to torment the girl child campaigner for trying to rescue the primary five girl and many more teen girls from marriage bondage in the community, but the gods rejected their sacrifice.

“The fowl refused to lay supine or vibrate and jump into the air and finally plunged into supine position” the informant said.

Madam Rafikata Mohammed, the District Girl Child Education Officer, who revealed this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in the Upper West Regional capital, Wa, called for external interventions to free many more teen girls from early and forced marriages.

She said an informant confided in her that the two families were planning to confess and apologise to the Chief of the community after the failed ritual in order to avert any possible wrath or calamity from the gods against them.

“I cannot tell why the gods rejected their ritual against me,” Madam Rafikata, but noted that it might be that the gods themselves were in support of what the rescue team was doing because it was in the interest of the poor victims and their families.

She lamented over deep-seated cultural and social beliefs and practices among several other local values thwarting efforts by her unit and the Wa East Education Directorate to fight against rampant child marriage in the district.

Madam Rafikata pointed out that child marriage was rife in the District particularly in communities like Zinye, Bisskani, Bulenga, Kpari Sagu, Loggu Sagu and Funsi – the District capital.

She also expressed grief over how some parents were not willing to cooperate with child marriage rescuers to free their daughters from the “wicked and illegal” practice just because of the little dowry taken from the men.

“Despite this, we have been able to rescue many girls with the latest one being Glays Dassah, 17-year-old Junior High School (JHS) graduate who obtained aggregate 18 and she is now a student at the Wa Senior High School (SHS)”,  she said.

Madam Rafikata said resource constraints hampered efforts by her unit move round all the communities, adding, we would have rescued many victims of child marriage than we have done currently.

She appealed to child centred organisations to support them to enable them reach out to many communities in the District to rescue more victims of early and forced marriages and sensitise communities against the practice.

Child marriage and teenage pregnancy have become widespread in Wa East District impeding girl child education efforts in the District.

Education officials who have expressed worry about the growing canker say in 2017, the District recorded 41 cases of teenage pregnancies and child marriages and three cases had already been recorded in January 2018. 

There are many more unreported cases.

Source: GNA

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