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ActionAid in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have launched a programme dubbed “Ending Child Marriage” to be rolled out in twelve Districts across Ghana. The overall goal of the programme is to contribute to the elimination of child marriage in Ghana and reduce socio-cultural practices that facilitate the phenomenon in the target districts of the country. Speaking at the launch of the Ending Child Marriage Project, the Country Director of Action Aid Ghana, Sumaila Abdul-Rahman said ending the violations of human rights, especially those of women is their main priority. The launch of the Ending Child Marriage programme, was followed by an inception meeting of stakeholders to deliberate on modalities for the effective implementation of the programme. Child Marriage occurs when one or both parties in the union are below the age of 18 or conducted without the consent of one or both parties which could have physical or emotional effects on the victim. According to the Country Director of ActionAid Ghana, Abdul-Rahman, tackling child marriage will not be an easy task and urged the stakeholders to work as a team to help face frustrations in the line of their duties. Mr. Abdul-Rahman further called for the prosecution of those who force a child under age into marriage.  In a speech delivered for the Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, Eric Opoku, he said Statistics from the Ghana Statistical Service indicates that, about six per cent of women are married before age 15, adding that 29 point one per cent of women were either given out into marriage before attaining age 18 in Brong-Ahafo Region. Mr. Opoku mentioned poverty, protection of family honour, materialism and harmful traditional and cultural practices as some of the factors that account for the grim statistics on child marriage. The Minister challenged ActionAid and UNICEF to show commitment toward the project to help it achieve its indented objective in the 12 target districts of the Country. He was thankful for Action Aid and UNICEF for their effort towards the implementation of the project in the Region. The Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF, Madam Emelia Allan, on her part said although Child marriage is illegal, evidence from the 2011 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey indicates that more than one in four are married before the age of 18 with the rate being 27 per cent, a rise from 24 point seven per cent in 2006. She added that the prevalence is slowly increasing and called for a collective effort from the stakeholders to end child marriage in the country.  Touching on the key highlights of the project, the Upper West Regional Programme Manager of ActionAid, George Dery revealed that they will be working with communities and children’s clubs to prevent child marriage in 12 districts of Ghana which are located in the Upper East,  Upper West, Brong-Ahafo and Greater Accra Regions. Mr. Dery disclosed that in Bono-Ahafo; Tain, Banda and Atebubu-Amantin are the beneficiary Districts for the next two years.
Biiya Mukusah Ali/http://newspaper.developghana.com/

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