Ms Laadi Ayii Ayamba, Member of Parliament (MP) for Pusiga, has called for enforcement of legislation against forced early marriages.

She kicked against the use of traditional and cultural practices that made families push their young girls into forced early marriages, explaining that they deprived them of growing naturally into adulthood.

Ms Ayamba made the call in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra, after making a statement “on the rise of forced early marriage”, on the floor of Parliament.

“No cultural law surpasses the constitution,” Ms Ayamba said, and expressed the need for the enforcement of provisions in the 1992 Constitution and other national legislations to protect girls in Ghana against the practice, which she described as evil.

Quoting the 1992 Constitution, the MP defined a child as”: Person below…18 years.”

She attributed the practice of force early marriage to poverty, betrothal, inadequate schools, ignorance and lack of role models in some communities.

Ms Ayamba expressed regret that there was high drop-out rate of teenage pregnancy in some parts of the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, whilst girls as young as 12 to 16 years were made to marry.

She called on colleague MPs to step up advocacy against forced early marriages and come out with packages to ensure the retention of girls in school.

“Traditional chiefs, elders, Parent Teacher Associations, School Management Committees, the National Disaster Management Organisation should also be part of the campaign against forced early marriages,” the MP said.

In her statement, Ms Ayamba said no child below the age of 18 should be forced into marriage as the practice hinged on the rights of the child.

She said: ”Mr Speaker, forced early marriage comes in many ways such as compulsion, coercion, pretension and adoption, and these can be undertaken by relatives, parents, peers and agents.

Quoting Graham Crouch in an organisation called: “Girls are Not Brides,” Ms Ayamba said 15 million girls were married before 18 years and 28 girls were often too soon married, endangering their personal development and well –being.

Among the huge challenges resulting from being married early are isolation, freedom being curtailed; and “these girls are normally neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives or mothers, so they stand a greater risk of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and child birth, sometimes leading to death.

They may also contract HIV and AIDS, suffering domestic violence with little access or no opportunities of ever getting out of the situation.

The Lawmaker harped on school drop-out as one of the consequences of early marriages, empowerment of the girls as well as mobilisation of religious leaders, chiefs, queen mothers and elders as well as support for the implementation of legislation against child marriage.

There is also the need to provide relevant economic support, giving of information and action against perpetrators, Ms Ayamba said.