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Save our children from harmful traditional practices

November 20th is an important date for children of the world as since it is used to celebrate the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

A UNICEF leaflet notes that the “Universal Children’s Day offers each of us an inspirational entry-point to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights, translating into dialogues and actions that will build a better world for Children.”

As we look forward to this day, Public Agenda would like to draw attention to one of the most harmful practices impacting on the rights of the child, particular, the girl child.

In today’s edition Public Agenda highlights a disturbing trend in the phenomenon of Female Genital Mutilation, which in spite of the fact that is a harmful practice recognized by the Constitution. Article 26 (2) of Ghana’s constitution prohibits “customary practices which dehumanize or are injurious to the physical and mental well-being of a person”, and in recognition of this, and various governments have passed legislation against it, yet it is on the rise especially in Northern Ghana.

The statistics age grim, but so also is the extent to which some communities will go, to cover these criminal activities. Firstly, we will have acknowledged that some communities will claim that this is a cultural practice. However, globally, the practice of FGM has been condemned as detrimental to the health of women and girls. In recognition of this, our own Government has legislated against the practice.

But like most laws in Ghana, there is lack of enforcement of anti-FGM legislation and practices. Since it occurs far away from Accra, and from the prying eyes of the bureaucracy and interest groups, it continues with impunity.

This cannot be allowed to continue. Public Agenda therefore calls on the Ministry of health, the Ministry of Gender and Children, and UNICEF to constitute a multi stakeholder group to discuss and tackle this menace in the North. The long-term impact of this on women’s health is unimaginable. More than that, it is a serious infringement on the rights of the girl child.

Public Agenda further calls on all duty bearers to see this as a national priority, work with the Police and health officials to end this practice. As a nation, we will be failing in our duty to the children of Ghana, especially those in the North, if we fail to act.

Let us act now to save our children from harmful traditional practices.


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