Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Child Marriages Are A Concern For Us All

8:14:00 PM

Stakeholders at a child marriages forum in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region were at the weekend called to support end the high incidence of teenage pregnancy and child marriages.

In 2015, a teenage pregnancy rate of 28.9 percent was recorded in the Tilli-Widnaba area and this increased to 30.7 percent in 2016.

Dr John Kingsley Krugu, the Executive Director of Youth Harvest Foundation- Ghana, in a speech read on his behalf, said the forum was aimed at addressing teenage pregnancy concerns and support end child marriages in selected communities within the district.

The communities are Yikurugu, Sakom, Teshie, Lamboya, Aniago, Kubori, Kobuko and Zebilla 1 and Zebilla 2, Azanga

The forum had as its theme: Preventing teenage pregnancy and ending child marriage; our collective responsibilities.

The Director said the foundation was not new in the Bawku West District because it collaborates with key government agencies and departments in finding solutions to the challenges confronting young people.

Dr Krugu said the foundation focused on formal education, sexual and reproductive health and rights promotion, entrepreneurship, skills development and sustainable agriculture to enable the youth achieve the vision of self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

He said in 2014, a demographic and health survey revealed that 14 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 years had begun having children and 750,000 teenage girls became pregnant annually in Ghana.

Once a girl becomes pregnant and to avoid the shame and stigmatization, often the parents give the girl in marriage to the man who impregnated her, Dr Krugu said.

He said one out of five girls in Ghana was married before their eighteenth birthday, and attributed this to limited sexual and reproductive health education efforts.

No society can develop if girls and women are not appropriately empowered to contribute to the development process, Dr Krugu said.

He said the percentage of girls between 20 to 24 years who are married or in a union by the age 18 was 21 percent and this, he said, amounts to approximately 256,780 affected girls in the country.
However, for girls living in the three northern regions of Ghana, this number increases to 1 out of 3 girls (34 per cent).

The Director said the project was a contribution to the governments effort at ending child marriages.

Madam Cecilia Sumaila, the Bawku West District Director of Education, said teenage pregnancies and child marriages have greatly affected the Districts human resource base and this needed attention.

She said the situation called for collective responsibility because its negative effects included high number of teenage mothers and high number of school dropouts among girls, increased poverty, early child marriage, infertility and high mortality, sexually transmitted infections and diseases resulting in low academic performances with unbearable consequences on society.

Mr David Nar-ire, District Coordinating Director, said there is the need for stakeholders to critically look at the issues surrounding the menace of child marriages and teenage pregnancies and tackle them to save adolescent girls from premarital activities.

He said child marriages and teenage pregnancies were endemic in the rural communities which were mainly due to socio-cultural practices, gender discrimination, early sexual initiation, gender-based violence marriage, poverty and lack of sex education.

Madam Millicent Ayaba, one of the Project Supervisors told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that the foundation has trained ten youth ambassadors who were given educational kits including a bicycle and books on teenage pregnancy and child marriages.

By Ghana Leaks Blog

Written by

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