Source: GNA - A Muslim leader has called for a Legislative Instrument (LI) to forbid sex before marriage, especially among adolescent girls.
Alhaji Mustapha Kalafara, an Imam, noted that early and forced marriages were rife in Zongo communities, because Muslims believed that was the best way to control acts of immorality among teenage girls.
He was contributing to an open forum at a durbar to mark this year's AU Day of the African Child at New Dormaa in the Sunyani Municipality, organized by the Brong-Ahafo Regional office of the Department of Children under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
The AU Day of the African Child was instituted by the then Organization of the African Unity (OAU) now the African Union (AU). In 1991 and falls on June 16 every year in memory of the gallant children who were killed during the Soweto uprising.
The theme for the 2015 celebration is: “Ending Child Marriages in Ghana Through the Strengthening of Family Structures.”
Alhaji Kalafara, the Deputy Chief Imam at New Dormaa, a Muslim dominated community, observed that though Christianity and Islam were against sexual promiscuity, the situation was becoming alarming, and therefore drastic measures must be taken to bring it under control.
He said until a law was enacted to restrain boys and girls from engaging in early sexual intercourse, efforts to control early and forced marriages in the country would not be successful.
“We cannot sit unconcerned and look at our girls engaging in all forms of immoral behavior and uncontrolled sexual practices, which Islam strongly speak against”, Alhaji Kalafara stated.
The Reverend Appiah Kubi, a Principal Investigator at the Brong-Ahafo Regional Office of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), noted that Ghana was among the leading countries that practised forced and early marriages.
He said according to statistics, forced and early marriages contributed about 29.1 percent of Ghanaian marriages or ordinance, Islam and traditional.
Rev Kubi explained that the 1992 constitution superseded all the three marriages, warning that the law would not spare any culprit of forced and early marriages.
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Setina Aboagye, the Deputy Brong-Ahafo Regional Coordinator of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Police, said the unit recorded nine cases of forced and early marriages in 2014.
She emphasized that poverty, religion and tradition could not be yardsticks to endorse early and forced marriages, and warned perpetrators to stop the practice as those who would be caught would be prosecuted.
Mr George Yaw Ankomah, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of the Department of Children, regretted that though it had devastating effects on girls, efforts in controlling early and forced marriages were being thwarted by some outmoded traditional and religious practices.
He said research had showed that victims of early and forced marriages went through all forms of violence which resulted in psychological, emotional and mental traumas.
Mr Ankomah appealed to all stakeholders to support and collaborate effectively with the department to end the practice.
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