Parliament of Ghana has been called on to pass a law with harsher penalty on teenage pregnancy to sufficiently guarantee the protection and future of young girls in the country to enable them realise their dreams.
“The proposed law should prescribe stiffer punishment for perpetrators who have shuttered the dreams and future of victims of child marriage and teenage pregnancy, particularly in Northern parts of Ghana.”
Mr Moses Dramani Luri, the Executive Director of Social Initiative for Literacy and Development Programme (SILDEP), who made the call said teenage pregnancy contributed significantly to child marriage, a menace profound in the Upper West Region.
Ghana’s 2010 population and housing census data indicates that for persons aged 12 to 14 years, 11.18 percent of them were married, followed by 17 percent for those who fall within the age bracket 15 to 19 years.
Child marriages amounted to almost one tenth (7.4 per cent) of the married population in Upper West, prompted Mr Luri to concluded that many girls in the region were victims of child marriage.
According to him, statistics had it that 4,282 out of 8,220 married people were girls, representing 52 percent.
“A total of 197 of the girls willingly get married without any customary rites, 24 of them get separated due to misunderstandings, 14 completely divorced and 43 get widowed, while 7,942 of them live a relatively stable marriage,” he added
He noted that though, Act 560 of 1998 made child marriage criminal, most people were not aware of the provision, adding: “Even those that are aware do little or nothing at all about it.”
Mr Luri said 77 defilement cases were recorded in 2015 as against 61 in 2016 while 90 of such cases were registered in 2017 in Upper West, totalling 228 recorded cases in three years.
He explained that cases not covered by the law but retarded development were 3,010 in 2015, 3,412 in 2016 and 3,595 in 2017, bringing the total to 10,017 in three consecutive years.
Mr Luri therefore called for robust action to enforce the Law on defilement to protect such victims.
Source: GNA | Ghana