The Northern Regional Coordinator of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service (GPS), Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mr Emmanuel Holortu, has attributed the increase in forced and child marriages in the region to the failure of people to report sexual abuse cases against teenage girls in the communities.
He noted that parents failed to report such cases of sexual abuse of their teenage girls to the police as they saw perpetrators of such crimes as members of the same community and, therefore, forced them to marry the girls when they got pregnant.
Mr Holortu said this at the opening of a four-day intensive regional girls’ camp in Tamale aimed at equipping the girls with skills to advocate equal rights and opportunities in their communities and districts.
The maiden regional girls’ camp attended by 60 girls and seven mentor teachers selected from three districts in the Northern Region is also to build the confidence and capacity of girls and young women to enable them to become conscious of their rights to challenge the culture of violence.
The camp, being held under the theme: “Supporting girls to learn, lead, decide and thrive, the responsibility of all” was organised by Songtaba, one of the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) implementing the Girls Advocacy Alliance Project (GAA) in the Northern Region with support from Plan International Ghana.
Forced and child marriages
DSP Holortu said forced and child marriages were the least reported domestic violence abuse cases in the region and gave statistics to buttress his point.
He said in 2012 and 2013, the region recorded four cases each of forced marriages, three cases in 2014, seven in 2015 and another three in 2016. As of April 2017, only two cases had been reported.
The Executive Director of Songtaba, Madam Lamnatu Adam, in an address said the cases of exchange and forced marriages were still rife in some communities in the Northern Region, and that all efforts would be made to end the menace that was denying many girls their education and future dreams.
She said since the inception of the project, her organisation, with support from Plan International Ghana, had engaged stakeholders, both traditional and religious, and actors from government and decentralised departments to build synergies in the fight against gender-based violence.
The GAA Project Manager of Plan International Ghana, Madam Anna N. Nabere, appealed to community leaders, including chiefs, religious leaders, family heads and parents to take keen interest in the growth and development of their children.
The District Chief Executive of Sagnarigu, Madam Mariam Iddrisu, who represented the Northern Regional Minister, Mr Salifu Saeed, commended the organisers of the camp and pledged the support of the Regional Coordinating Council towards the fight to ending child marriage in the region and beyond.