Today, singer and Britain’s Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon is calling on the public to support ActionAid’s campaign to end child marriage after travelling to Ghana and meeting young girls whose lives have been threatened by this harmful practice.
Alesha travelled with ActionAid to the Upper West Region of Ghana where teenage girls are regularly abducted for child marriage. These common kidnappings target young girls, remove them from their villages, families and schools leaving them isolated and their futures at risk.
Alesha Dixon said:
I came to Ghana nervously anticipating what I might see or what I might hear. And what I have seen, and heard has been heart-breaking. Every human being has the right to a choice and freedom, so that being taken away from a vulnerable young girl who has no idea what might happen to her is beyond shocking. The basic principle of having the right to choose your own path and decide your own future is snatched away.
Child marriage is an act of violence and a violation of girl’s rights. In Ghana, one in five girls are married before they’re 18, and in the Upper West region of the country 50 young girls are abducted and forced into early marriage every year. The practice prevents girls from completing their education, and leaves them trapped in a cycle of poverty and inequality.
ActionAid works to end child marriage on many fronts; from bringing perpetrators to justice, to changing minds and behaviours in local communities, to campaigning at a regional, national and international to influence policies and legislation to end violence against girls. The charity also focuses on empowering young girls to understand and live out their rights, and ensuring they have the choice to complete their education.
I’ve seen first-hand the work ActionAid do to rescue girls from child marriage, and ensure they can claim their rights, return to school and choose a future they deserve. Even if you grow up as a girl in poverty, you should still be able to feel that there is hope, that you have a choice, and be able to feel like if I go to school and work really hard, that one day I can become a nurse, one day I can go on to become a teacher. But we need to ensure ActionAid is able to support more girls, so they too can have that choice.
Girish Menon, ActionAid Chief Executive said:
We are so grateful to Alesha for travelling with ActionAid to see for herself the devastating impact of child marriage which denies hundreds of millions of girls around the world the chance to determine their own futures.
“At ActionAid, we believe every girl should be free to complete their education, reach their potential, and have their health and wellbeing protected. We’re working on many fronts to end this form of violence, but there is still much to do. We need the public’s support to speed up progress to end child marriage, and protect millions of girls and help change their lives for good.
Please donate now to support ActionAid’s child marriage campaign at www.actionaid.org.uk/childmarriage
- Press photos for print and online: https://stories.actionaid.org/?c=47952&k=d92a36d812
- Short film from Alesha Dixon’s trip: https://youtu.be/KEDAKUBT_I0
- Film link for embedding online: <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KEDAKUBT_I0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Notes to Editors
1. ActionAid is a not-for-profit international charity, working with women and girls in 45 countries around the world.
2. Support ActionAid’s child marriage campaign at www.actionaid.org.uk/childmarriage
3. Statistics taken from http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/child-marriage/ghana/