Regional News Wed, 3 Dec 2003

NCWD urges education on harmful customary practices

Tamale, Dec. 3, GNA - A senior official of the National Council on Women and Development (NCWD) on Tuesday urged groups and individuals to embark on a campaign to educate traditional rulers to abandon harmful cultural practices.

Ms Patience Opoku, mentioned in particular, "Trokosi", "Female Genital Mutilation" (FGM) and some aspects of puberty rites, which she said had received critical appraisal and had been found to be degrading and dehumanising.

She made the call in an address to about 180 participants at a day's forum jointly organised by the NCWD and the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs in Tamale.

The forum, which was under the theme: "Harmful Traditional Practices and Implications for HIV/AIDS", brought together school children and representatives of NGOs and government departments, and other members of the public.

Ms Opoku said even though such harmful practices were not new to the authorities, they had done nothing serious to ensure that those traditional rulers who still engaged in them were punished.

She said it would require intensive education and the determination of the traditional rulers still engaged in such practices to abandon them and urged Ghanaians to help fight the menace.


Ms. Opoku said the fight to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS would not succeed if such destructive traditional practices were not eliminated, adding that the use of one gadget to cut more than four female genitals at a time was a possible means of HIV/AIDS transmission.

Mrs Mariam Tackie, Executive Director of the NCWD, said HIV/AIDS had challenged the very existence of mankind, a situation, which required a global effort to win the fight against the pandemic.

Mr Alhassan Amadu, Regional Director of the National Population Council, said the pandemic was now more of a developmental issue than a health problem and advised the youth to abstain from pre-marital sex as a safer means of prevention.

"If the youth are able to avoid contracting the disease, there is hope for Ghana's development in the near future", he said, adding that his outfit would do all that it could to assist in the campaign against the pandemic.

Some of the participants deplored the low patronage of men at such workshops saying, "married men are always the problem since tradition does not allow women spouses to have sex outside marriage."

Source: GNA