ACCRA - A proposal to increase marital age for women in Ghana is facing growing criticism from Muslim organizations, seeing it as opening the door to problems related to pre-marital sex and abortion which contradicts with the Islamic laws.
There are significantly many development factors including biological, cultural, social and technological; which ensure that girls are physical matured for marriage by age 18, the Imam and acting National Chairman of the Ghana Muslim Mission, Sheikh (Dr) Amin Bonsu, told Ghana Web on Monday, July 29.
Delaying their marriage means we are going to experience more young girls getting pregnant without having responsible men who will care for them during pregnancy, child bearing and their babies, he stated.
The proposal to increase marital age for women in Ghana from 18 to 23 was first suggested by Government Statistician Dr Philomina Nyarko.
According to Nyarko, the proposal would ensure that young women were physically, socially and psychologically prepared before bearing children.
Speaking at a news conference in Accra, Bonsu argued that child bearing at advanced age could also bring complications to many women.
Moreover, he referred to reports indicating that in the Central Region alone, nearly 14,000 girls got pregnant last year through pre-marital sex.
Sheikh Bonsu said lack of proper care for these pregnant girls could compel them to engage in unsafe abortion methods that could lead to high rates of maternal deaths in the country.
This, therefore, posses the fear that delaying their marriage to 23 years will give room for more teenage pregnancies, illegal abortion, maternal deaths, HIV/AIDS, unplanned births and many more other consequences on these girls, their babies and the society at large, Sheikh Bonsu stressed.
According to CIA factbook, Ghana is home to a Muslim population estimated by 17.6% of the country's 25 million.
The Muslim leader confirmed that the government should shoulder its responsibilities in emphasizing proper parental care rather than increasing the marital age.
Educational institutions must also inculcate moral and life skills training into school curriculum like it used to be in the past, instead of focusing only on the intellectual and academic development of our children, Sheikh Bonsu suggested.
He added that religious institutions should also focus on preaching good morals and shaping the character of their people rather than spending too much time on business issues.
The society, traditional leaders and our political leaders must uphold and honor people with good moral character and not riches, social status, he added.
Sheikh Bonsu noted that placing too much emphasis on birth control and reducing population growth was not a better approach to the development of the country.
He also decried that fact that many countries spend much resources on birth control and reducing population than expenditure that will ensure economic growth.
We suggest that families and the country must use available resources for proper planning of families including spacing births, allocation of resources for children upbringing and education, Sheikh Bonsu suggested.
Marriage in Islam is of utmost importance as it is upon the lawful union of a man and a woman that society grows strong and that moral is preserved.
In Islam it is not permissible for the guardian to compel the one under his guardianship to marry someone she does not desire to marry.
Rather, it is necessary to seek her consent and permission.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net