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18
Mon, Dec

Ghana strengthens child protection system

Mrs Samira Bawumia (3rd left) and other dignitaries at the programme, pledging their support for the campaign against child abuse

A campaign aimed at strengthening the country’s child protection system to prevent and respond appropriately to issues of child abuse was launched in Accra last Tuesday with a call on all to join Ghanaians Against Child Abuse (GACA) to ensure the welfare of the child.

Known as the Child Protection Social Drive Campaign, the initiative seeks to drive and shift the attention of Ghanaians to the best practices for the development of a child.

The GACA initiative by the Ministries of Gender, Children and Social Protection and Local Government and Rural Development, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners, is in line with the government’s Child and Family Welfare and Justice for Children policies that provide the framework for strengthening the child protection system to prevent child abuse and respond appropriately to such issues.

Study by UNICEF

A current study by UNICEF indicates that in Ghana more than 90 per cent of children have experienced some form of physical violence, while more than 21 per cent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 years were married before the age of 18.

Additionally, 16 per cent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years were forced against their will to have their first experience of sexual intercourse, while an estimated 23 per cent of children between the ages of five and 14 years were engaged in some form of economic activity in Ghana.

Launching the Child Protection Social Drive Campaign, the wife of the Vice-President, Mrs Samira Bawumia, re-affirmed her support to the GACA movement to stop child abuse.

“As a mother, ensuring the protection and well-being of children is extremely important to me. So today I pledge to be a GACA advocate and I personally pledge to support the call on all Ghanaians to take action against all forms of child abuse,” she emphasised.

Read also: Peace Council receives support from EU, UNDP

Explanation

Explaining more about the GACA movement, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Miss Otiko Afisa Djaba, said the campaign sought to achieve its ultimate with the GACA by mobilising communities, parents, traditional rulers, families and individuals across the country to stand against all forms of child abuse.

“This call to action is for everyone to be committed to ensure a safer Ghana for our children. We invite everyone to become a Ghanaian Against Child Abuse. I am a GACA and I call on you too to become a GACA,” she added.

“Even though we are gradually improving and trying to create an enabling environment for children, the statistics do not depict a good and desired situation for Ghana,” Miss Djaba said.
She expressed concern about what she termed “the cultural acceptance of violence as a usual part of nurturing a child in the name of discipline.”

Way forward

According to the minister, the government has formulated complementary policies, including the Child and Family Welfare Policy, Justice for Children Policy and National Social Protection Policy that clearly outline government’s commitment towards ensuring that a conducive environment was created for all children in Ghana.

For her part, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, expressed her support for the movement, saying “As the GACA movement is launched today, I call on all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to commit resources to ensure regular engagements with families and communities.”

A Representative of UNICEF Ghana, Miss Rushnan Murtaza, added: “Let us openly talk about the issue of sex or any other forms of violence when we are in our community groups, our church groups, or other places of worship. When families and communities get together, let us not be shy about discussing violence that is being perpetuated around us. Collectively, let us think of ways to stamp out such practices.”