‘No child marriage in Elmina Zongo’

BY: Shirley Asiedu-Addo
Chief Imam, Sheik Yahya Shafiq Abdulrahman (2nd left) with UNFPA and UNICEF teams
Chief Imam, Sheik Yahya Shafiq Abdulrahman (2nd left) with UNFPA and UNICEF teams

The Elmina Zongo community has instituted strict measures to ensure that no child is given in marriage.

Also, the community, led by its Chief Imam, Sheik Yahya Shafiq Abdulrahman, has also put in place stringent measures that has ensured that there are no teenage pregnancies in the community.

 “I do not allow any person to give away children in marriage in the community,” he stated.

He also stated that for about a decade, no teenager had been reported pregnant in the community.

He noted that it behoved all to support young girls to explore and strive to achieve their fullest potential to support their families, communities and nation.

Working visit

He was briefing members of a joint steering committee made up of officials of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Canadian High Commission during a faith-based organisation partners meeting as part of a working visit to Elmina on Tuesday.

The three-day visit was to assess at first-hand, activities under the UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme dubbed: “Comprehensive Sexual Education and Reproductive Health Services in Ghana”  being implemented in Cape Coast and the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem municipalities in the Central Region.

The programmes, which are being implemented in 36 districts across the country.

are being undertaken with support from the Canada Global Affairs.

He said there were no incidence of child marriages in the community because he, together with other leaders of the community, closely monitored to ensure that no family in the community gave children away in marriage.

“If I have any hint of a family wanting to give away a young girl to marriage, I usually talk them out of it.

It takes efforts and persistence to get your people to understand but it works,” he noted.

“We have also not had any teenage pregnancy reported here in the last 10 years or more,” he added.

 Sheik Abdulrahman said he incorporated reproductive health lessons in his sermons to help guide the youth on responsible sexual choices.

He commended the joint efforts by UNFPA and UNICEF in bringing all stakeholders together to ensure responsible adolescent sexual lifestyle.

He advised religious leaders to support efforts at curbing child marriages and help to reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancies in the communities.

Council of churches

A representative of the Local Council of Churches, Reverend Albert Sam, said the council was also working to provide sensitisation sessions on responsible sexuality for the youth adding that it would be done in the context of christian values.

The Country Representative of the UNFPA, Mr Niyi Ojuolape, said the project was a show of the institution’s commitment to empowering girls to make informed decisions concerning their sexuality and to help build better futures.

“We believe in every girl and their potential and that is what we seek to do. To get them to attain their full potential and achieve their dreams and aspirations.

The Country Representative of UNICEF, Ms Anne-Claire Dufay, said UNICEF would work to ensure the well-being of children everywhere.

The Head of Development Cooperation at the Canadian High Commission in Ghana, Mr Christian Tardif, said Canada would continue to support the development of the nation’s youth to empower them to live responsible lives.

The team visited the Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Blind, joined in a teacher’s training programme at Elmina and later met with community partners at Kissi and Dominase.