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26.03.2008 General News

Forced marriage: girl back to school

By The Ghanaian Times
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The 17-year-old Junior High School girl in Kumasi who was to have been given away in marriage last Friday, resumed classes yesterday following the stoppage of the ceremony.

The final year pupil of the Nasru-Deen Junior High School, yesterday took part in the mock examinations currently being conducted in the school to prepare the pupils for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) from April 21 to April 25.

She had earlier been confined for the marriage ceremony planned for last Friday but the ceremony was aborted following the intervention of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the police.

Her stepfather, Muftawu Osman, was arrested last Wednesday ahead of the planned marriage.

He has since been granted enquiry bail having been made to write an undertaking not to proceed with the marriage.

The headmaster of the school, Francis Opoku Agyeman, expressed joy over the girl's resumption of classes.

Efforts to get the girl herself for her comments failed as she had left school by the time the Times got to the school.

Following the Times publication about the intended marriage last Friday, the Kumasi office of the DOVVSU intervened by arresting the pupil's stepfather, described as the brain behind the marriage.

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), also objected to the parents' decision to force the girl into marriage.

Mr Joseph Maxwell Appiagyei, principal investigator quoted the children's Act 560 Section 14 sub-section one and two that "no one shall force a child to be betrothed or be subject of any daily transaction to be married."

"Any person who contravenes the provision of the sub part, he said, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of GH¢500.00 or one year imprisonment or to both."

The Children's Act defines a Child to be any person under the age of 18.

Inspector Irene Oppong of DOVVSU, Accra, commenting on the issue said the parents' decision infringes on the rights of the girl.

She quoted Act 554, 1998 section 109 on compulsion of marriages which states that "whoever by duress causes a person to marry against his or her wish, shall be guilty of a misdeameanour."

"It is a crime and whoever is giving the girl in marriage can be prosecuted under the Act," she said.

The Children's Act, she said defines a child to be any person under the age of 18 and cautioned that if the marriage goes ahead and the man sleeps with her against her will, he could be charged with rape which attracts five to 20 years imprisonment.

Source: The Ghanaian Times

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