April 16, 2021
The Southern Region office of the National Commission for Children (NCC) in Bo, in collaboration with the Family Support Unit (FSU) of the Bo Central Police Station, on 11th April,2021 aborted a child marriage that was about to take place between a 16-yearl –old girl and an elderly man.
Report states that the child in question (name withheld) is a JSS 2 pupil of a Junior Secondary School in Bo who was about to be given out in marriage by her biological parents.
The visiting team comprised the NCC Regional Office Manager in Bo, Sheku Farma, the Southern Regional Coordinator FSU, Superintendent Fatmata Susan Kamara and her Deputy, Foday Munda Jabati.
According to report, the team made an unannounced visit to the residence where the proposed marriage was about to take place.
While carrying out the tax, the team invoked the constitutional instrument provided by law, which gives them the power to stop anything that is not in the interest of the child.
The team cited Article 34 (1) of the Child Rights Act 2007 which states that the minimum age of marriage whether formal or informal shall be eighteen (18) years. Article 2 states that no person shall force a child to be betrothed; to be the subject of a dowry transaction, or to be married.
The parents of the child, the girl and some other family members were also invited to the Family Support Unit of the Bo Central Police Station for questioning. Others who played active roles in the marriage process were detained at the FSU while the marriage was cancelled.
However, the NCC considers the act of cancelling the child marriage as a deterrent to the practice and a strong message to the general public that the law has the full power to stop any form of early marriage even at the 11th hour of the process without fear or favour.
Child Marriage has a lot of negative implications on girls in particular and the society as a whole. Girls drop out of school thus depriving them of education and meaningful work. They suffer health risks associated with early sexual activity and childbearing. This contributes to high rates of maternal and child mortality as well as sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Child marriage devastates the lives of girls, their families, and their communities perpetuating the cycle of poverty. It is believed that most of these girls who are given into early marriages if given the opportunity to be educated and to develop to their fullest potential will become better people in society and will make their own meaningful contributions to the development of the country.
The NCC hereby commends the FSU Bo division for the swift and timely intervention to salvage the situation and further calls for concerted efforts by all to stop the menace in the country.
The public is encouraged to report on any failure to protect the rights and welfare of children by any institution or individual.