Dr Beatrice Akua-Sakyiwah, Head of the Gender Unit of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) has called on stakeholders to focus on the rising trend of pre-teen pregnancy in the Country.
She said research conducted by the Unit showed an emerging trend resulting from weakened law enforcement systems, and flawed policy.
Dr Akua-Sakyiwah who was addressing a stakeholder forum in the Akatsi North District of the Volta Region on 'teen pregnancy,' said the development was disturbing, and described it also as a canker growing out of control.
“Between the ages of nine to 13, the population of girls getting pregnant is becoming higher than what we knew originally. The original age range was 15 to 19, and now that is not the case. In some parts of Ghana, it is becoming very very serious.''
“There is a need for us not to sit down and feel comfortable and think that they are old enough. We must not forget they are still children,” she said.
Dr Akua-Sakyiwah said the Institute had identified loopholes in the child and family welfare policies and was engaging stakeholders through series of workshops.
She said the nation’s current sexual policy, which allowed sexual activity from age 16 until the marriageable age of 18, added to other “unconventional” rules surrounding pregnancy in maintaining the cycle of children bearing children.
Dr Akua-Sakyiwah said defining age 16 as sex permissible age placed children on the path of abuse, adding, “It’s a circular motion we have started and it needs to be broken.”
She mentioned scapegoating as a major deterrent and appealed to stakeholders to ensure that sexual defilers faced the full length of the law.
The regional discussions powered by the BUSAC Fund and supported by DANIDA and the USAID is advocating the re-orientation of parent-child relationships, and also the strengthening of traditional authority in the promotion of rights and justice.
Dr Akua-Sakyiwah said the project also supported women education and empowerment and was also advocating for increased social benefits towards sustaining the stewardship of parents.
“Teens need help. They need support. They are lying to everybody as though they have arrived. They haven’t! Because when you sit down and listen to their story you will know that they need real help and they need real support. Unfortunately, parents are not able to help them the way they should,” she added.
The project is under the theme “Strengthening Family and Community Links to Facilitate Youth Education for Stewardship and Sustainable Economy”, and is collating stakeholder viewpoints nationwide into a workable representation of the adolescent situation, and to help develop more sustainable solutions.
Dr Prince Amuzu, District Chief Executive (DCE) for Akatsi North, which is one of the highest on the district teen pregnancy charts, lamented that the adolescent crisis overshadowed its progress, and praised the timely intervention of the tertiary institution.
“Chiefs are not happy with the situation. Nothing has changed despite the efforts of stakeholders. Year after year, the data shows no improvement,” he said.