The UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Ghana, Girmay Haile, has revealed Ghana has potentially one of the world’s highest cases of child marriage.
Speaking at the launch of the 7th Africa Conference on Sexual Health in Accra on Wednesday, December 22, Mr. Girmay Haile expressed concern about rising reports of child marriages, describing it as “alarming”.
“We are very concerned, we know that young children, as low as ten and below, are subject to early sex and also subject to early marriage,” he said.
Ghana has one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world, with reports showing that on average, one out of four girls is married before age 18.
The Ghana Demographic Health Survey in 2008 indicated about 25% of women aged 20-24 were married or were in union before age 18 years.
The 2011 MultiIndicator Cluster Survey (MICS) also scores Ghana about 28% for age of marriage before 18 and about 6% for marriages before 15 years.
Mr. Haile noted that Ghana’s strides in democratic governance and increase in the enrollment of pupils at the basic and senior secondary levels, makes this negative trend unacceptable.
“This is not a practice that we need to be condoning at this time in our development history and for a country that has been independent for such a long time, this is really some important area we need to look into.”
Mr Girmay Haile further charged policy makers, traditional authorities and stakeholders in the girl child education sector to work at reversing this trend.
“They have been looking at a number of these culturally based but also male dominated behaviors that are putting young girls at risk,” he said.
In line with this, the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection will be launching a national campaign to advocate for the end of child marriages in February next year.
In an interview with Citi News, the Conference Manager, Edith Esinam Asamani, said it is time for the implementation of policies to change the status-quo.
She believes things have improved but there is still a lot to do with regards to ending child marriages hence the launch.
Ms Asamani indicated, “Even though a lot of things have improved, we still realize that, culturally even though we are silent on it, there are still a lot of issues on early and child marriage”.
“It was of one the reasons the ministry of gender has chosen to use our platform to also launch the national campaign on ending child marriage… We have created this platform for media people, for policy makers, for researchers, or young advocates to come and dialogue on issues,” she added.