Approximately a hundred adolescent girls from some selected communities in the Ningo-Prampram District have been admonished to report any form of sexual harassment, abuse and gender based violence regardless of who the perpetrator is, to the Domestic Violence and victim Support Unit (DOVVSU), the Ghana Police service and the District Assembly for immediate assistance and redress. They were enlightened that sexual violence is criminal and must reject informal mediation/ out of court settlements in rape or defilement cases in order to receive medical attention, receive justice, control stigmatization and regain control of their education and future. The girls were entreated to be cautious of their male friends and male family relations, who research has revealed, are largely, perpetrators of sexual violence. They were also cautioned against boyfriend relationships despite economic challenges. The adolescent girls received these advices at the “Mentorship to Empower Adolescents on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and Gender Based violence programme, jointly, organized by the Department of Gender of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the Gender Desk of the Ningo-Prampram District Assembly.
The programme received sponsorship from the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund).Addressing the participants, the Regional Director of Gender, (Western Region), Miss. Maribel Akuokor Okine indicated that sexual and gender based violence is a global social issue which leaves victims, physically, emotionally and psychologically traumatized. According to statistics available to her, one out of three women experience physical violence, one out of five women experienced forced sex and two out of ten women first sexual intercourse was by forced. This she said underscores the need to empower adolescents periodically to take charge of their sexual health, prevent sexual violence and make informed decisions on their sexual health. She encouraged the girls to refrain from sexual relations and incest especially that they are less than eighteen (18) years. She also asked them to report harmful practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and forced marriages to the appropriate authorities. These acts she stated are against their human rights and must be reported for lawful prosecution and logical redress. Stating the underlining rationale for the mentorship programme, madam Matilda Bampo disclosed that most often than not, adolescents in the smaller communities lack guidance and role models. Teenage pregnancies, poverty, child marriages and sexual and gender violence has been identified to hinder the girl child education. Now that second cycle education is free, these bottles necks must be eliminated to ensure the girl child is well educated as well as empowered to make informed decisions concerning their future wellbeing. It is against this background that these stakeholders have organized this mentorship programme “to ensure these selected girls are educated, healthy and socially empowered, and free from violence and discrimination”. These combined efforts are expected to yield quality education, reduce their vulnerability to forced marriages, gender based violence and equip them with information to make meaningful informed decisions concerning their sexuality and future.
Madam Naomi Ahortor from the District Health Directorate disclosed that statistics on teenage pregnancy incidence in the district is on the ascendency. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, 439, 448 and 515 teenage pregnancy cases were recorded respectively. However, the margin of increases in these cases is decreasing, giving hope that the battle can be won with intensified mentorship programmes. She advised the girls against premature sex since the possibility of contracting Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs) including HIV/AIDS, can have adverse effect on their health and future. The Deputy Director of the Ningo-Prampram District Assembly, Mr. David Mawufemo Tuglo who represented the District Chief Executive, advised the girls to make positive use of their phones as well as the social media. He encouraged them to put into practice the knowledge they have acquired in the course of the programme. Ms. Zubaida Damago at the gender desk of the District Assembly entreated the participants to become peer educators in their various communities and spread the good news for social and behavioral transformation. She gave out a hotline contact (0246856880) to the participants needing counselling, advice or any form of assistance concerning their sexual and reproductive health. The Gender Desk she said can be located at the District Development Planning Office for walk-in services. The adolescent girls were drawn from Ahwiam, Lekpongunor, Prampram, Mangotsonya and Lotsubuer communities within the District.