“Parental neglect of the children; I think that is critical. In the past, if you wanted a virgin to marry, you went to the village. Now, the reverse is the situation. If you want virgins, it is better to go to the cities, because you won’t get virgins in the villages. That is the reality,” Peter Akudugu Ayamba, Primary Health Care Coordinator, Catholic Health Services, Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese said this while speaking at A1 Radio’s round table discussion on teenage pregnancies and stakeholders’ efforts at managing the social menace.
His comments followed earlier ones that were made that suggested that parents in the various communities had failed to properly train their children; the reason teenage pregnancies persisted despite the many interventions by Catholic Health Services, Ghana Health Service, CSOs, NGOs, Religious and Traditional leaders et al.
It would be known that in Ghana’s socio-cultural context, it is often thought that girls that have been properly trained, well mannered, and sexually innocent could be found in the rural communities in Ghana.
Mr. Ayamba explained that while that may have been true for a certain period, the same context cannot hold now. He explained that children in rural communities are equally exposed to a lot of fancy things through social media and traditional media. These fancy things tickle their fancies and often may lead them to experiment with things seen on social media and the traditional media.
For Mr. Ayamba, it is however unfortunate that while they are armed with information from social media, the young individuals are not armed with the requisite knowledge to know the consequences of early sex.
“They do not have knowledge about early sex. They only have half-baked information and for that matter, the only option is to try. They just have pieces of information,” he said.
The Primary Health Care Coordinator, Catholic Health Services, Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese continued to say that “the parents also acknowledged that they do not have enough information to deal with the situation so how do they then educate their children?”
“Engaging the parent and community leaders, it came out strongly that community structures and social structures have been broken down. In the past, if I see your son or daughter doing something wrong, I can rebuke him or her. This time, they said don’t do it.”
Earlier, it came to light that rape and transactional sex are rife in all the mining communities within the Talensi District of the Upper East Region. Young girls, aged between 14 and 19 skip classes in search of well-paying informal jobs at the mining sites. Others are in search of ‘sponsors’ who would fund the ostentatious lifestyles they would want to live. For a few others, it is a matter of sustenance.
The round table discussion was occasioned by a feature, Trapped on the Motherhood Web, written and produced by A1 Radio’s Moses Apiah with support from the Youth Harvest Foundation.
A survey by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) indicated that between 2016 and 2020 more than half a million Ghanaian girls aged 10 to 19 years were pregnant. The figure indicates that an average of over 111,000 teen pregnancies are recorded per year.
In the Upper East Region, statistics from the Service also indicated that in 2020 a total of 6,533 cases of teenage pregnancies were recorded. In 2021, the Catholic Health Service of the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocesan Development Organisation also recorded over 5,000 teenage pregnancies within 10 months. The Bolgatanga Municipality recorded 11 percent of teenage pregnancies in 2020. This increased to 12 percent in the first half of the year 2021. The Sherigu Health facility recorded 25.7 percent of the overall figure while the Sumbrungu Health Centre recorded 22 percent of teenage pregnancies.