We need accelerated actions to eliminate child marriage 

Dr Hilda Mantebea Boye

The Paediatric Society of Ghana (PSG) has called on stakeholders to ramp up efforts at eliminating child marriages in Ghana. 

The call comes at the back of the betrothal of a 12-year-old girl to a senior member of the Ga traditional community, which has irked the Ghanaians and the international community. 

Dr Hilda Mantebea Boye, the President of the Paediatric Society, in a release copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), raised concerns over the breath of support towards the act by some sections of the Ghanaian community. 

She shared the Society’s stance against the practice and called for unity against the growing acceptance, as the practice could significantly retrogress the progress made in pushing back child marriages in the country. 

Dr Boye said with more than two million girls and women in Ghana caught up in underage marriage unions, the latest incident should spur stakeholders to act urgently to halt the situation. 

“The PSG strongly condemns any act or perception or facilitation of child marriage. As a country, we have made good progress towards eliminating this unpopular practice of child marriage, however, accelerated actions are needed.” 

The statement said the perceived acceptance of child marriages and the open brazen approval or defence of the practice by influential leaders of the community, had the potential to embolden certain deviant behaviours like paedophilia. 

“Child marriages are dangerous. Both real and so called arranged informal unions where the child is supposedly a symbolic wife and not expected to perform any marital duties including conjugal duties are dangerous,” Dr Boye said. 

She said the preventable damage to the child’s development, reproduction and mental health and education could be irreversible and generational,” and said, “collectively, we must remove the shroud of deception which portrays these cultural practices as harmless and protect our children. 

“We cannot openly endorse such unions and still expect the child to be able to report any abuse perpetrated by these same adults who watched on as the child was being married off to their abusers.” 

The Society commended stakeholders for their efforts over the years and said a committed resolve at addressing the new emergence should reassure the nation’s children. 

“The PSG calls on all agents and agencies with the mandate to protect children from such harmful socio-cultural practices to respond swiftly and save the children already traumatised by child marriage practices. 

“We will support the efforts of the government and all partners to protect the best interest of every child everywhere in Ghana. 

It said this called for strong national commitment at the highest-level of the political, traditional, health, educational, judicial, and media landscape, with unwavering support from international partners like UNICEF and the WHO. 

Source: GNA 

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