Facilitators of Men and Boys Club in the Central Region have called on the judiciary to as a matter of urgency issue stiffer punishment for perpetrators of child marriage in the country.
The facilitators said the judiciary should give sentences that will instill fear and discipline in people and also serve as a deterrent to others to help reduce the rate of child marriages and teenage pregnancies.
“The legal fine of GH¢500 for perpetrators of child marriages is too small, it should be increased at all cost to stop culprits” they lamented.
The facilitators raised these issues at a two-day training workshop for 30 Facilitators of Men and Boys clubs organized by the Department of Gender in collaboration with the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) at Ekumfi Swedru.
It is being funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
They were drawn from the Assin South, Ekumfi, Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA), Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam (AEE), Upper Denkyira East and Twifo-Hemang-Lower-Denkyira districts all in the Central Region.
Giving a presentation on “Child Marriage: the role of Men and Boys”, Mrs Thywil Eyra Kpe, the Regional Director of the Department of Gender charged facilitators to educate the children to appreciate their rights as well as the effect of child marriage to enlightened them on the consequences.
She called on parents to avoid forcefully marrying off pregnant girls to men who impregnated them just to safeguard family honor and dignity.
Mrs Kpe said such practice families should sanction or allow police prosecute members who force children into early marriage resulting in broken homes, divorces
She entreated facilitators to preach against traditions, customs that affect the development of children in various societies
On the development and personal implications of Child Marriage, the Regional Director said exposure to violence and abuse in the marriage, increased risks of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s), increased mortality rate, loss of future career opportunities and among others were the results of child marriages and called on collaborative effort to end it.
She emphasized gender inequality, puberty rites, traditional beliefs, low sensitization of the laws, protection of family honour as the major reasons for child marriages in the Region which were destroying the future of children.
Corporal Richard Twum, a representative from the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) educated facilitators on sexual offenses and its related punishments and warned perpetrators to stop the practice.
He called on stakeholders to support the fight against child marriages in the country and cautioned families settling sexual offenses in the various homes to end it or face the full rigours of the law.