By Quainoo Reuben, Ghana
The National Chief Imam Sheikh Usman Nuhu Sharubutu has thrown his support behind the ongoing “End Child Marriage campaign” that’s seeking to eliminate the menace of child marriage across the country.
The Chief Imam says the struggle to end child marriage and forced marriage is a duty of all and not just the civil society organisations.
“We must all as a nation agree on a plan of action on the reduction of child marriage, sexual violence and abuse against children,” he noted.
The National Chief Imam made these remarks when officials of Plan International Ghana paid a courtesy call on him to brief him on ongoing activities to end child marriage, sexual violence and commercial exploitation as part of the Girls Advocacy Alliance Programme. The team included Country Director of Plan International Ghana Mr. Solomon TesfaMariam, Project Manager of the Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) Project Mrs. Anna N. Nabere, and Mr. Kamal Deen Habib who is Economic Empowerment Specialist.
Mr. TesfaMariam explained the objective of the project was to strive for the attainment of a just world that advanced children’s rights and equality for boys and girls. “Women must be given equal rights to become leaders, as girls have equal rights as boys to lead,” he said.
Mr. TesfaMariam disclosed about 263 girls in Ghana have been saved from early marriage and its related consequences as a result of the project.
A communique read by a group of young people working to end abuse against girls, the Youth Advocates Ghana observed child marriage has become a matter of high concern. The group consists of 25 young people spread across various regions of the country including Eastern, Ashanti, Northern, Upper West and Greater Accra.
According to by Ms. Issah Rahama who read the communique on behalf of her colleagues, the number of girls and women of all ages who were first married or in union before age 18 is about 2 million.
“We the Youth Advocates of the Girls Advocacy Alliance of Plan international Ghana and Defence for Children International are contributing our quota to change the situation in the country,” she said.
“With the support of the Girls Advocacy Alliance project, we joined hands with other youth groups in the various regions to embark on community sensitization and radio programs to educate the general public on the negative consequences of child marriage and the importance of supporting the education of children especially girls,” she explained.
According to Ms. Rahama, some regional chief imams have incorporated issues of child marriage and other practices that violate the rights of children into their sermons as a result of the campaign.
“Your Eminence, today we are in your office, not for any reason, but for the same course that we have been championing for the past 3 to 4 years. As one of the most influential personalities in the country and beyond, we humbly seek for your endorsement in our quest to end child marriages in the country, most importantly, in our Muslim communities in Ghana in order to empower girls through education,” she said.