Parents in the Diare community in the Savelugu Municipality of the Northern Region are beginning to buy into the idea of ending early and forced marriages among their girl child.
The Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) is working with the community to increase awareness in ending the phenomenon.
The parents have come to the realization that early and forced marriage is endangering the lives of girls and their education.
Diare is one of the eight communities in the region with high prevalence of early and forced child marriage, something the network is working assiduously to end.
The AFJN is a faith-based, non-profit and pan African organization jointly supported by 29 US-based missionary congregations of religious women and men with focus on the Gospel and inspired by Catholic Social Teachings.
The team met with the Chief and elders of the community to deliberate on the issues.
They also engaged the community members on the issues that are forcing parents to give their children out in marriage.
One of the parents blamed the problem on child delinquency on the part of children in the community. “these days the children do not listen to their mothers.”
Secondly, they go out and come back at odd hours and when they are spoken to by their mothers they don’t listen, they will even do worse the next day. So I advised their mothers to report such cases to the fathers and together we can stop such behaviors.” He said.
Another parent said they are looking up to God to help them in this situation because they have done all they can.
“The children are just not prepared to change. My question is even if we stop them from going out at night, what about during the day when they are out at school? How do we monitor their movement? So it’s up to them to change”. She added
Imoro Rahina, a student in the Diare community said one of the causes of early marriage in the town is broken homes.
“If your parents are not there and you are staying with your grandmother or aunt who can no longer farm to feed you and help with your needs, you are compelled to go out and sleep with boys in exchange for money and material stuff. That is what most of the girls in this community do” she said.
She added that in some cases some of the girls are raped by these boys who usually threaten to beat up the victims if they don’t give in.
“Most of the boys will call you into their rooms and force and sleep with you, and after they will ask you to keep quite or else, they will beat you”. She added.
Coordinator for AFJN Ghana, Ignatia Sarfowa Boateng said early and forced child marriage is a common practice in the region, the reason why the team decided to launch the campaign in an attempt to reduce or end the canker.
“We have realized that in Northern Ghana, it has become a problem that there is early marriage. It was even mentioned in one of the United Nations programs. We could have gone anywhere but we only targeted about eight communities where it is very prevalent. Last year, we had similar programs and we are doing a follow up. Child marriage is really rampant here in the region and that is our focus” She added.
She said if the issue is not addressed the region will continue to live in abject poverty.
“If this problem continues, we will continue to live in abject poverty, and education also goes down and that is why we thought of coming to help, just to create the awareness to let them know and they have really accepted that the situation in which they are is not favorable and they need to change. She opined.
Sister Ignitia said the team advised elders in the community to formulate policies that will control the movement of children at night.
She said the team also admonished fathers to help women in the upbringing of children in the area.
Story By: Imoro Alhassan