Two beautiful children from the Northern Ghana, age 7 and 5 respectively have hit the music industry with an amazing single titled ‘Make You No Force Me, I Am Too Young oo,’ to create awareness against the embarrassing rate at which girls of school going age are mostly married off to older men by their parents.
The two upcoming music talents, Itihad and Nihad though young have begun an earnest war against early child marriage in the country with their music which many music lovers and child rights and child health advocates have recommended for a theme song for campaign against early child marriages in the country.
Although Ghana was the first country to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which called for the abolishment of traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children, Ghana has one of the highest childhood marriages prevalences in the world.
At the national level, 25 per cent of females between the ages of 20 and 25 years are married before they turned 18 years old.
Research has established that this negative practice is inimical to child development because child and early marriage robs the young girl of the opportunity to be physically, psychologically, emotionally and financially ready for the responsibilities of marriage and childbearing.
Speaking to Itihad and Nihad in an interview, they indicated that they were moved by the fact that early marriage increases social isolation and launches girls into a cycle of poverty, gender inequities, and higher risk of dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
According to them, early marriage forces young girls to take over responsibilities and handle situations for which they are often physically and psychologically unprepared for, and more so education which is very crucial to a prosperous life is often shortened by early marriage.
“It is very obvious that girls who are married are less likely to have an education,” Itihad said.
They also mentioned that they have experienced for a fact that early and forced marriages are mostly driven by poverty leading to many parents and families withdrawing their daughters from school and forcing them into marriage to relieve their financial burdens.
According to them, there is the need for all to continue the campaign against the menace in drumming home for people to know that girls in early and forced marriages face higher risks of death in child birth due to the health complications and could also be affected with HIV/AIDS.
“Early child and force marriage is a negative social practice because these young girls lack the power to make right decisions about their marriage partners,” they said and appealed to the government through the Gender Ministry to do more in educating the public on the dangers of early child marriage and also for the ministry to expand the livelihood Empowerment Programme against Poverty (LEAP) to more women and train them to undertake viable economic business enterprises to help address poverty so as to enable them cater for the needs of their daughters particularly in their education.
The United Nations (UN) Convention is a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. It was adopted on November 20, 1989.
According to UNICEF’s 2015 report, one in four women in Ghana married before the age of 18, representing 27 percent of the population.
It said the issue has increased nationwide from 25.9 percent in 2006 to 27 percent in 2011 with an increase every other year.
Available statistics show the menace has been increasing in three regions of the country including Upper East with 39.2 percent, Western Region with 36.7 percent and Upper West Region with 36.3 percent.
Itihad and Nihad entreated the educated women in the country to be role models to empower girls who have come out of early marriages.
They appealed to the Minister of Gender, Women and Social Protection to adopt their music as a campaign song to create awareness and sensitize families, parents and children against entering into early marriages.
Source: Prosper Agbenyega