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Young people dissent Child Marriage

Under the theme, 'Enough With The Silence', First ladies, Girls, Civil Society Organisations, and partners gathered at the Labadi Beach Hotel to discuss and effectively map out new methods and approaches towards ending child marriage at the AU Girls' Summit 2018 with over 200 girls across Africa attending the summit.

At the summit, U-Report poll on child marriage was conducted. According to the results, 87% of respondents disagreed with girls marrying before 18- years while 13% agreed with the practice.

Early Child Marriage is prioritized under the Agenda 2063 Framework and Article 21 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child which calls for the end to all harmful social practices like child marriage and female genital mutilation.

Even though the legal age for marriage in Ghana is 18, 21% of girls in Ghana are married before they are 18, and rates can be as high as 39% in the northern part of the country.

A lot of reasons have been attributed to the practice of child marriage, with poverty being the main reason. According to the poll, 41% of the respondents believed that poverty contributes immensely to child marriage. Other reasons included teenage pregnancy, tradition and religion, lack of other options and out of the girl's own will, indicating 25%, 19%, 8% and 6% respectively.

Child Marriage is a violation of the human rights of girls according to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Article 21), The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Article 6), The African Youth Charter (Article 8) and The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development (Article 18). Although these instruments condemn child marriage and /or establish 18 as a minimum age of marriage, African countries are striving hard to curb the practice to save the life of many girls.

According to the poll, 50% of respondents believed that school drop-out, maternal and infant mortality, teenage pregnancy, and exposure to violence were some negative results due to child marriage.

In the quest to end child marriage in Ghana, a lot of interventions have been put in place including the launch of the 2017-2026 National Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage in Ghana by the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Protection in May 2017.

U-Reporters indicated that to prevent child marriage in Ghana, girls need to be educated, there must be better law enforcement, and the skills of young people should be developed, among other measures.

Out of 14,148, 2,600 representing 18% of U-Reporters responded to the poll.

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