A worried paramount chief in the Upper East region has proposed a radical measure to deal with men who woo girls into a relationship and, after putting them in the family way, ditch them completely to their fate.
As of the time of filing this report, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) had put together a heavy list that shows 3,046 girls were pregnant in the region just six months into 2018.
Whilst some of the girls cannot identify the exact men whose seeds made them miss their periods, the vast majority of them got it right, but were issued an outright disclaimer by the men who in the beginning had made promises too good to resist but in the end behaved like “hit-and-run” drivers.
The angry chief tried to count the number of such rejected nursing girls in his community, but lost count on the way not just for the reason that they were too many but also because the burden they had become to their poor families, after dropping out of school, had translated into a consuming ache in his head.
He believes one effective way to confront early motherhood and its rippling effects on society is to begin to compel such ‘hit-and-hide’ men to take the teen moms home and look after them together with the babies for life.
He believes teenage pregnancy and motherhood cases in Ghana are far from going away, despite the collective efforts and resources being expended everywhere to curb them, simply because some ‘woo-and-shoo’ men are on a breed-and-neglect spree and nobody is holding them accountable for the consequences of their actions.
“Whenever somebody gets a girl pregnant, we should just deal with it the military way. Take the girl home and start taking care of her. About 40% of girls in my area get pregnant and give birth before they go to secondary school. Seeing girls with babies staying with their parents and suffering is something that worries me as a paramount chief,” Pe Muntala Ayikode Zangwio Atoge IV of the Katiu Traditional Area told Starr News.
He stressed as he struck his left palm repeatedly with the edge of his right hand in anger: “There just has to be a fine on them, a force on them, to work and take care of that person till the person gives birth and goes back to school. The care should continue for eternity. But what we rather see is the pregnant girls sit with their parents at home and the parents end up struggling.”
The region’s youngest paramount chief was speaking on the sidelines of a citizens’ forum and town hall meeting organised in the Kassena-Nankana West District by the Centre for Democratic Development Ghana (CDD-Ghana) in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD). It was funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and facilitated by the Rural Initiatives for Self-Empowerment Ghana (RISE-Ghana).
The Swelling Figures of Teenage Pregnancies
At least 57,000 teenage pregnancies were recorded in Ghana within the first half of 2017, according to Marie Stopes International, a charity foundation into contraception and safe abortion care services.
The Upper East region recorded 5,518 teenage pregnancy cases in 2014 and 5,564 in 2015. In 2016, the region topped a national list of teenage pregnancies with 5,587 cases. Updates picked by Starr News from the GHS this week revealed 6,187 cases were documented in the region in 2017.
In the concluding months ahead, there will be many festivals everywhere in the region to recognise the role the gods are believed to have played ‘behind the scenes’ to make possible the bumper harvests of a 2018 that gave more rainwater than was asked for, including the unsolicited killer excess water parcelled and dispatched from the Bagre Dam by a caring neighbour, Burkina Faso.
From the unrestricted festival grounds, there are bound to be ‘bumper harvests’ of teenage pregnancies, too, in what could double the 3,046 cases already recorded between January and June, this year.
Unsafe Abortion Kills 3
Speaking at the forum, the Kassena-Nankana West District Director of Health Services, Juliana Anam-erime, revealed that three people died in 2017 from unsafe abortion in the district, one of them a teenager whose reason for the chancy decision she took is yet unknown.
“We are also working towards reduction in maternal and newborn deaths in the district. Our district hasn’t got a hospital. Unfortunately, last year, we contributed to maternal deaths at the Navrongo War Memorial Hospital. We contributed to five deaths.
“Three of these were as a result of unsafe abortion. We have come up with strategies to reduce this in 2018 through serious community engagement,” she said.
Let Nursing Girls Carry their Babies — Chief tells Mothers
Going beyond his recommendations on the neglect being meted out to girls by those who impregnate them, Pe Atoge IV also urged parents to avoid extending a helping hand that could rather end up drawing more teenage pregnancies into their families.
“When the girls give birth, parents should not take the child from them. They should let the girls carry the babies themselves to feel that pain, too. What some parents do is, after the birth, instead of the girl to also go through some punishment so that she doesn’t go back doing that thing again, they take the babies from the girls.
“Then, the girls go around and still do the same thing. Let her carry the baby herself after the nine months and feed the baby. The cry of the baby in itself would inspire her to stay away from early pregnancy,” he said.
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