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General News Fri, 30 Apr 1999

Girls forced to elope into marriage in Nadowli, priest complains

Issa (Upper West), 30th April ?99 ?

Despite educational programmes on the abuse of human rights and outmoded customary practices, more people have resorted to marriage by elopement at Issa in the Nadowli district and surrounding areas.

The victims are mostly school girls of between 13 and 18 years who are forcibly removed from school and dragged to their husbands whom they sometimes do not know.

Two Catholic priests and some organisations who have tried to stop the practice have been warned to either stay out of the matter or face the wrath of the communities involved.

Mr Mathias Nadari, an elder of the village, in an interview said such people often refuse to follow the laid down customary marriage procedures and connive with some family members to elope with the girls.

He said in most cases, parents who try to rescue their children during elopement are brutally assaulted and disgraced in public.

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Mr Nadari, who is also a unit committee member of the village, attributed this anomaly to the lack of a traditional chief in the area over the past 14 years. He said the area has been rife with chieftaincy disputes and litigation since the death of the former chief in 1985.

Confirming the story, the Reverend Father Francis Vog-Enga, parish priest of the Issa Catholic church, said the situation has crippled formal education in the area.

Fr Vog-Enga said even though there is a youth leadership training institute in the village, none of the students is from the area."Sometimes these people entice the young girls with money and some

few bottles of alcoholic drinks."

The parish priest said he would use his pulpit to fight against the practice until it is completely wiped out to pave the way for educational development in the area.

Source: --
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