The Five Hundred and sixtieth Act of the Republic of Ghana entitled: The Children's Act, 1998, assented on 30 December 1998 defines a child as, '…a person below the age of eighteen years'. A parent who deprives a person within the stated age of his or her access to 'education, immunisation, adequate diet, clothing, shelter, medical attention or any other thing required for his Development', 'Commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding ¢5 million or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or to both.'
Is the law making a mockery of itself? Should parents indeed be panelised for not been able to provide for their children? Or should they be panelised only when their act of neglect results in the child's death? I seek answers to these questions, below is the view of a single mother;
Ms Annette Adom: Takwa
'I never knew there is such a law in Ghana to punish parents who are not able to provide for their children. If this is true then Ghana has failed its children by not building enough prisons for us! (she meant parents) I have four children, I work full time selling doughnuts at the market, the last of my children is 14 years old, the doughnuts I sell doesn't bring in enough income to take care of all four children as my husband died three years ago, I have no support from anywhere so I have to do everything by myself…my last child has to come to the market with me so she could also sell some of the food to help us increase our income, I cannot let her to school …I know education is good, but what should I do if I cannot afford it?'
'They say free tuition fees; trust me its never so real, …forget about the free feeding program, the contractors only fed the children with expired food products and made them sick…do you think any person in their good minds will imprison me for not been able to provide adequately for my children? What support does the government give me as a single parent? Yes it did not ask me to give birth to four children, but there are uncertainties in life and so we must recognise that, I planned to have four kids, and that is exactly what I have now, but I didn't plan for my husband to die half way in life…there are thousands of single parents in my shoes, we have been neglected with no help from any source'. I should know that death is inevitable, I didn't plan for it, so must I suffer for the rest of my life?
'I acknowledge the welfare of my children is my responsibility, but the state also has a responsibility to ensure that at least I am able to support my children. 'Until there are measures to help parents in Ghana maximise their income to take care of their children…please don't ever read this law to me.., my children understand and appreciate that I am doing all I could to help them, they will say thank you to me in future. There will be more of street children on our streets as long as the government thinks it is the sole responsibility of parents to take care of their children. Educate them (she meant the government) and call on me again in the next few years to see if all my children are not in school.'
What is your opinion?
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