The Head of the Psychiatry Unit at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) has entreated parents and society not to throw girls who fail the Basic Education and Certificate Exam (BECE) or West African Senior School Certificate Exam (WASSCE) into early marriages.

Speaking on the Super Morning Show, on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, she stated that neglecting girls who suffer this fate could have dire consequences on them. This includes the tendency of having their mental health affected.

Instead, she has called for them to be economically empowered.

“If they do not pass their BECE or SSCE that should not be the end for them. Simple trades, simple apprenticeship, should be made available to them so that they can still be economically empowered so that some big man somewhere does not say that marry me so that I’ll take care of you,” she stressed.

She made this statement as part of her contribution on how to curb early marriages.  

She intimated that girls who are also rescued from these situations should be empowered to form support groups and serve as advocates against the canker.

She added that such girls should also be economically empowered to be able to cater for themselves.

The call follows a JoyNews documentary, Child Bride, which tells the story of 20-year old Rakia who almost took her life after she was forced into marrying a man more than twice her age.

According to UNICEF, Ghana is home to over 2 million child brides. The international organization has warned that Ghana risks missing out on meeting the Sustainable Development Goal 5 – eliminating all harmful practices, such as child, early, and forced marriage by 2030.

The warning comes as over 1.7 Million girls are married off on or at age 15 or in active union before their 18th birthday. There is a worrying trend in the Ashanti region as survivors of traumatic child marriages, some of whom were married off to men three times their age in other West African countries, hope to see some prompt action to end the practice.

With the help of the Multimedia Group, the Police Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) has saved at least ten victims who were subjected to sexual abuse, including rape.

In the latest Hotline Documentary, JoyNews’ Ohemeng Tawiah has revealed, after several months of investigations, that child and forced marriages truncated the education, health, and economic prospects of victims in the Ashanti Region. The objective of the documentary “Child Bride”, is therefore to bring the issue to the fore and get it addressed.

Dr. Owusu-Antwi thus called for psychological support to be provided to victims of child marriage.

She also reiterated calls for girls to be empowered to voice out acts of violence committed against them right from the onset.

“I’ll put education on top. I think every child should know what their rights are, what it means to be abused emotionally and physically, and some of this education should be inculcated into the routine Ghana Education Service (GES) teaching materials.

“If they feel their families are subjecting them to abuse, they should report them to the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU). It should be included in the teaching syllabus at an early stage right from primary to upper primary, girls should be empowered to know when to say “No“ and be informed about the clear guidelines on how to get help when they find themselves in any kind of abusive relationship,” she stated.