An average of 50 young girls below the ages of 15 and 17 are abducted for marriage every year in the Jirapa, Lambussie/Karni and Sissala East districts.
Many young girls in the communities, including school children, are forcefully taken away by men who made them their wives against their will, preference and choice.
Mr. George Dery, Upper West Regional Development Programme Manager of ActionAid Ghana, a non-governmental organisation who made this known during a media encounter in Wa, said the girls are denied the right to education and also subjected to rape and other forms of humiliation.
He said the practice is an old tradition whereby young girls are kidnapped for marriage without the consent of the girl or parents and it is more dominant in communities in the Jirapa and Lambussie/Karni districts
Mr. Dery said one issue that was militating against the right of girls to education was the abduction of girls for marriage and that the practice also contributed to the high dropout rate of girls at the basic school level in some of the communities in the area.
He said abduction was a criminal act and that ActionAid Ghana was collaborating with Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police (DOVVSU) to sensitise 20 communities about the concept of Community Based Anti-Violence Team (COMBAT) to protect girls and women from violence in its operational districts.
He said the DOVVSU officials were ready to support ActionAid Ghana and the COMBAT members to completely eradicate the practice of abduction and other harmful cultural practices in Jirapa that infringe on the rights of women and girls and to create a safe environment for women and girls to enjoy their rights.
Mr Dery said a woman at Nandomwala in the Jirapa District who was always beaten by her husband three times in a week had now become a free woman after the formation of the COMBAT in the community.
He said some 12 other communities had expressed interest to establish the Community Based Anti-Violence Teams to help check the increasing incidence of abduction and head porterage (Kayayo) among girls.
ActionAid Ghana was also collaborating with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and the Department of Social Welfare to train its COMBAT members about laws such as the Domestic Violence Act, Children’s Act and the Intestate Succession Law.
Mr. Dery said the NGO would facilitate the formation of more COMBATs in the communities and also engage with the Regional House of Chiefs to discuss cultural practices such as abduction and kidnapping which are illegal and solicit their commitment to abolish all negative cultural practices in the communities.