UNFPA: Report sexual abuse against young adolescents

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is encouraging young adolescents particularly girls to report issues of sexual abuse against them as they remain home due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Programme Analyst, Reproductive Health and Humanitarian Assistance at UNFPA, Dr Claudia Donkor observed an increasing rate of domestic violence in all its forms across the country as a result of the pandemic urging that victims do not hesitate in reporting these cases.

“We know that COVID-19 has brought about rampant cases in sexual and gender based violence and the young girls are at high risk.

“Girls must be empowered to say no to men who make advances at them, own your bodies in these times and report any untoward behaviour to the appropriate channels to ensure that perpetrators do not go scot free,” she stressed.

Dr Donkor was speaking in an interview with the Ghanaian Times at the end of a two-day training programme for selected adolescent health champions in Accra yesterday.

Drawn from the Ashiedu-Keteke sub metro of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, the about 20 participants were equipped with knowledge on their sexual and reproductive health rights as well as how to access adolescent health services in case of any eventuality.

Other topics discussed bordered on drug and substance abuse, mental health, self-development skills among others.

The year-long project, funded by the Canadian government through the UNFPA and UNICEF is being implemented by the Alliance for Reproductive Health Right (ARHR), a non-governmental organisation in the Greater Accra Region.

According to Dr Donkor, the UNFPA has recently supported the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service to revamp its hotlines to ensure quick response to issues of abuse.

“We have to protect our women and girls and make sure men face the full rigours of the law when they sexually abuse these girls.

They can call to report any untoward behaviour on 0551000900 and not settle these issues at home amicably.”

Urging government to immediately resource DOVVSU to effectively deliver on its mandate, the medical officer cautioned parents and guardians to “keep an eye on the girl child, teach them to pick up the warning signs so that they take care of themselves.

“You need to be responsible enough to protect your children because you brought them into this world and we should be cautious not to put them in harm’s way,” she urged.

Programmes Officer of ARHR, Michael Aggrey indicated that the participants are expected to replicate knowledge acquired in their various communities to reduce incidences of sexual abuse and teenage pregnancies.

“We hope that with what they have learnt they will be able to make informed decisions concerning sexual and reproductive health and help other girls to do same.”

A 15-year-old girl, Nelly Annan, who resides in Jamestown, a suburb of Accra and took part in the training, was impressed with the knowledge acquired.

“This training has helped me to know more about myself and boost my confidence to achieve my dreams in life.

When I get to my community, I will advise my friends against pre-marital sex and other vices that expose them to teenage pregnancies,” she said.


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