Stakeholders at this year’s International Day of the Girl Child, at Akwamufie in the Asuogyaman District of the Eastern Region, have advocated stiffer punishment for men who impregnate girls under age.
They coined two hashtags to ensure that men who impregnate teenage girls are punished.
The hashtags are ‘Who make the teenage girls pregnant’ and ‘Punish the men who make the teenage girls pregnant’.
A hashtag (#) is a rallying point on social media platforms around which an advocacy is championed.
The declaration of the hashtag follows what the stakeholders said was the lack of prosecution of men who lure ignorant teenage girls to ‘bed’ and impregnate them.
According to the stakeholders, if punished in line with the Criminal Offences Act of the country, other men would be deterred from having sexual relationships with teenage girls especially those below 15 years.
Statistics from the Ghana Health Service indicates that between 2016 and 2020, more than 555, 000 girls between the ages of 10 and 19 were pregnant, with over 13,000 of them being girls between 10 and 14.
In 2020 alone, 109,888 girls, made up of 2,865 of them between 10 to 14 and 107,023 between 15 and 19 got pregnant.
To reverse the trend, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Ghana and the Obaapa Development Foundation, decided to observe the Day of the Girl Child in the Eastern Region; the region with the second highest teenage pregnancy incident.
Observed on October 11 annually worldwide, the day set aside by the UN supports opportunities for girls and increases awareness of inequalities they face in society.
On the theme “Digital Generation; My Body My Own” the event was attended by female students drawn from Senior and Junior High Schools in the Asuogyaman District, Queen Mothers across the country, the Akwamuman Traditional Council, UNFPA officers and other relevant stakeholders.
The UNFPA Country Director, Niyi Ojuolape, “Let us engage men and let them know that this is against the law and unacceptable in our society because the harm that it causes when teenage girls are impregnated is much more than anybody can see.”
Mr Ojuolape said it was important society woke up to the reality that some teenagers were sexually active and that steps should be taken to encourage them to protect them from teenage pregnancy and other diseases whilst advising the others to abstain.
“The message should be as hard and harsh as we push it when we are taking about HIV/AIDS that when you have unprotected sex, you are at the risk of contracting HIV. If we have that clearly stated, I want to believe that we will end this scourge of teenage pregnancy because the effect on the girls and the society as a whole is dire,” he advocated.
The Paramount Chief of the Akwamu Traditional Area, Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III, said he supported calls for men who impregnate teenage girls to be prosecuted.
He asked the girls, who earlier had mentorship sessions with the Queen mothers to use the skills they acquired to protect themselves against sexual predators.
FROM JULIUS YAO PETETSI, AKWAMUFIE