The Director of the Girls Education Unit of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Catherine Nutsugah-Mikado, has warned that, henceforth, parents who force their children into early marriages will be arrested swiftly and prosecuted.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the Akatsi North District Girls’ Education Club, at Ave-Dakpa yesterday, she said that the unit has come out with strong structures to motivate children to report such parents.
Her warning comes a fortnight after The Ghanaian Times revealed that 61 basic school girls in the district had become pregnant and were out of school.
The club was formed jointly by the district assembly and the district GES office, with support from the queens of the traditional area, to educate the girls on the need to abstain from sex and also promptly report men who harass them sexually or in other inappropriate ways, to their teachers and social workers.
According to Mrs Nutsugah, investigations into the high incidence of teenage pregnancies in the district and also in other parts of the country with similar trends confirmed that widespread and deep rooted parental neglect was responsible for 90 per cent of the cases.
She also blamed the problem largely on certain cultural practices which endorsed early marriage of girls.
“Marriage is not the ultimate goal in life so we will not allow this to continue,” Mrs Nutsugah-Mikado said.
According to her, the unit had also taken a firm stance to trace pregnant school girls and help them to come back to school after giving birth.
She urged the club’s mentors to inculcate the qualities of self-control, assertiveness and negotiating skills in girls, to arm them in the fight against teenage pregnancy.
The DCE, Mr James Gunu, announced that the assembly had set up a hotline for reports on paedophiles and other sex predators, saying, “We are serious with our war on such men”.
He said that the assembly was also planning to enact bye-laws to stop children from going to wake-keeping.
Mr Gunu expressed gratitude to the Department of Social Welfare, the churches, Imams and the National Commission on Civic Education for their vigorous support to of the club.
From Alberto Mario Noretti,Ave-Dakpa