Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ghana: Forced Marriages

From Muhammed Suraj Sulley Jawando in Modern Ghana:
Although great scholars have classified marriage in Africa as arranged marriage, it is predominantly forced marriage because the women are coerced or threatened into those marriages. Normally the objection of the bride or bridegroom is ignored. Such marriages are arranged not based on love, but for economic reason, bogus religious reason and reputation of the family.

Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that, “men and women of full age have the Rights to marry and found a family. It should be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses”. I wonder if the government of Ghana knows this declaration and has started implementing it to stop this modern form of slavery that parents force their children into.

In recent times parents have disrupted and crumbled the relationship and education that took years to build, for economic reasons, to send their children into forced marriages. They tend to accept the men their children bring hope until someone approaches them about another man who is interested in their children and he is from a wealthy home or from abroad. The former becomes the enemy of the family, except the girl who still loves him, and the latter becomes the toast of the family, but an enemy to the girl he intends to spend the rest of his life with.

Religious connotation has been infused into the issue of forced marriage and cannot be differentiated from tradition. Yes a girl has to marry at some point in her life, but I'm yet to be shown a verse in the Holy Quran or Holy bible that teaches about forced, unhappy marriage or throwing our daughters into hot water to get them to accept the men we choose for them.

I cannot express my disappointment at the past and present government and legislators of the 4th Republic for not doing enough, by enacting laws that will protect these innocent and powerless girls.

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