A study conducted by the Ghana Non-Governmental Organisations on the Coalition of the Right of the Child shows that child marriage accounted for 25.11 per cent of human rights abuses in the country.
This unpleasant situation, according to the Coalition, which works to promote the interest of children, is a national challenge which required concerted efforts to bring under control.
Barima Akwasi Amankwaa, the National Co-ordinator of the Coalition, disclosed this when speaking at a day’s seminar on the Right of the Child for people in the hospitality industry, transport sector, media and civil society organisations on Wednesday in Sunyani.
The seminar, which was organised by the Coalition, was aimed at sensitising the participants on certain child right laws and conventions, as well as collect views and inputs towards the proposed review of some of the laws.
Barima Amankwaa said child marriage and exploitation, which were initially rife in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions, had now taken a national dimension with the Western, Brong-Ahafo, and Central regions as well as parts of the Eastern Region assuming alarming proportions.
Preliminary investigations, the National Co-ordinator said, showed that poverty, parental and community pressures as well as outmoded traditional practices were contributory factors impeding the fight against child marriage.
Barima Amankwaa noted with regret that in most of the coastal areas, if a girl reached adolescent or puberty and showed signs of sexual development, poverty and other external factors coerced her to go into marriage unwillingly.
He said the existence of legislation like the Criminal Code, Juvenile Justice Act, child protection policies and other United Nations Conventions on the Right of the Child had not been able to help address child rights abuses and exploitation.
Barima Amankwaa called for strict enforcement of policies and legislation on child right protection to control the situation.
Mr Simon Asore Azumah, the Brong-Ahafo Regional President of the Coalition, was unhappy that most of the institutions that worked to promote child rights were not working for reasons unknown.
He said some of the child protection laws ought to be reviewed to make them realistic enough to fight child right abuses and exploitation.
Mr Raphael Godlove Ahenu, the Chief Executive Officer of the Global Media Foundation (GLOMEF), a human rights and anti-corruption NGO, said child labour, trafficking and abuses were rife in the Brong-Ahafo Region.
Mr Ahenu said the media played essential role in nation-building and, therefore, asked practitioners to develop interest in child right issues.