Mrs Thywill Eyra Kpe, Central Regional Director of the Department of Gender, has advised young girls to desist from co-habitating with men.
Cohabitation, which is the arrangement where two people lived together as if married, usually without legal or religious sanction, has become a common practice among some Ghanaian youth.
But the practice, according to Mrs Kpe, renders women worse off as majority of them ended up becoming victims of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).
She was addressing heads of vocational institutions, apprentices, and artisanal groups at a two-day sensitization workshop on SGBV, gender equality, and Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) in Cape Coast.
The workshop was organised by the National Youth Authority (NYA) in collaboration with the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) with funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The gender activist noted with regret that some teenage mothers were compelled to co-habit with men who impregnated them thus depriving them of education and future career development.
She stressed that women and girls must be empowered to be assertive such that they would not fall prey to the antics of unscrupulous men.
Mrs Kpe underscored the need for society to do away with the constructed gender biases which were contributing factors to the SGBV witnessed in schools, homes, workplace and others places.
She said SGBV had long term psychological, physical and economic consequences on victims, society and the nation at large.
Mrs Kpe encouraged the participants be ambassadors and preach against SGBV in their respective communities and not to perpetuate violence against their subordinates.
She advised the participants to report perpetrators of SGBV to the appropriate authorities and called for community involvement.
“It is a crime so do not condone it, have a stake in crime prevention in your communities”, she said.
Detective Corporal Richard Boadi-Twum, an Investigator with the Central Regional Secretariat of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service, spoke about sexual offences with their attendant punishments.
He advised that rape and defilement victims be sent to hospital for treatment before reporting to the Police and said that would help preserve evidence for prosecution.
He said the laws on such sexual offences have been made strict to protect young girls to secure their future, hence the long sentences of seven and twenty-five years jail term for defilement perpetrators to serve as a deterrent.
Mr Michael Tagoe, Youth Program Officer of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), for the Western and Central Regions, expressed worry about the rate of unsafe abortion among the youth adding that his outfit recorded at least three daily abortion cases.
He stressed the need to intensity efforts on comprehensive sexuality education and family planning to save the youth from unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Mr Emmanuel Sodja Martey, Regional Director of the NYA, commended the collaborative efforts of the UNFPA and the Regional Coordinating Council in helping to address gender related and reproductive health issues of the youth.
He encouraged the participants to be ambassadors and preach to their colleagues when they return to their respective communities.