Men who impregnate girls under 18 in Sissala districts to pay money, buy cow
Traditional leaders have joined forces with parents in the Sissala East and West areas in the Upper West Region to devise some by-laws to protect young girls against teenage pregnancy and child marriage.
Depending on the degree of the offence, the man would be forced to pay as high as GHC1,000 in addition to items such as cow and food.
The chiefs and people in the two districts formulated the laws to also improve the not-too-encouraging level of education there, especially at the basic level.
A UNICEF statistics says the Upper West region has the third highest child marriage rate with 36.3% after Upper East and Western regions which top the chart with 39.2% and 36.7% respectively.
UNICEF has therefore come together with ActionAid Ghana and the chiefs and queenmothers of the two Sissala districts to strategise ways to end child marriage and teenage pregnancies in the areas.
Equal level of sanctions have been developed for each of the law that is broken.
1. No person should marry or impregnate a girl below the age of 18 years. Sanction: Five hundred cedis (500) and a cow given to the community.
2. No incest is allowed in the Sissala Land. Sanction: A sheep and one thousand cedis (1,000).
3. No family should accept any girl below 18 years of age for purposes of marriage into their homes. Sanction: shall pay five hundred Ghana cedis (500) to the community.
4. No chief should support any case of child marriage or pregnancy. Sanction: The chief shall pay one thousand cedis (1,000) and a sheep to the community.
5. No teenage pregnant girl should be allowed to stay with the boy’s family while the boy takes care of the pregnant girl in the areas of food, soap , Hospital bills , clothes etc. Sanction: A sheep and one thousand cedis (1,000).
6. Parents should seize mobile phones from their children when seen holding.
Vice President of the Tumu traditional area, Kuoro Williams Bonley Baah, said the laws were passed with the consent and support of all the chiefs to protect girls under 18 years, taking into consideration both customs and laws of the country.
According to Liplimeh Kuoro Abudu Bukari, girls education in the area is very important to them. A queenmother of Tumu traditional area, Ramatu Abdulai also promised that they would not allow the girls to get pregnant when they are supposed to be in school.