Ghanaian lawmaker seeks ECOWAS legislation to end female genital mutilation, child marriage

 Hon. Laadi Ayamba, a member of the ECOWAS Parliament from Ghana has urged countries of the sub-regional bloc to adopt and implement a law that will end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage.

Ayamba made the call while speaking with newsmen on the sideline of the ongoing ECOWAS Parliament delocalised meeting in Monrovia, the Liberian capital on Thursday.

According to her, female genital mutilation and child marriage are some of the oldest cultural practices that violate the right of the girl-child.

She said though Ghana had already criminalised the mutilation of the female genital, some parents still took their children to neighbouring countries to get the procedure done.

She said the trend could be stopped if all ECOWAS member states were to agree to make the practice a punishable offense under their national laws.

“My constituency is one of the places where the prevalence rate of female genital mutilation is highest. And after the President brought in the issue of imprisonment for anyone found culpable, those who practiced it started crossing the borders again to neighbouring countries.

“They go to countries such as Burkina Faso and Togo to do this thing. When you realise that the girl concerned is not around, you investigate. And when you discover that such person has been sent to a certain place for her genitals to be mutilated, you make a report.

“There is no particular tribe that has been able to come out and tell us that there is economic sense in what they were doing or that there are benefits a girl stands to gain.

“The only thing we come to hear is that they are doing it for the girl-child to be preserved for her to-be husband and to show that she is brave.

“I am saying that we should ensure that we do a regional or a cross country linkage to make sure that if in Ghana there is a law against the practice, in Togo it should be the same and in Burkina Faso too.

“All ECOWAS countries should have the same laws against female genital mutilation so that if you are arrested in Ghana, you can still be arrested in any of the other countries in the sub-region for breaching the same law.

“It is when we are able to do this that as a region, we can end female genital mutilation with one voice,” Ayamba said.

She said the time had come for ECOWAS to embark on an awareness campaign to communities to sensitise parents to the dangers of female genital mutilation and child marriage.

Ayamba also called for a law to stop child marriage, which she identified as another impediment to the development and empowerment of the girl-child.

While child marriage refers to the marriage of a girl or boy before the age of 18, female genital mutilation comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths.