The International Child Development Program (ICDP), a non-governmental organization focused on girls education, has called on hotels, guest houses and restaurants to institute measures to protect young girls from sexual abuse and exploitation.
It said many girls under the age of 18 were exploited by men at such facilities leading to teenage pregnancies and high school dropout rates among girls.
Mrs Joyce Larnyoh, Executive Director of ICDP, said in collaboration with Plan Netherlands, her outfit is implementing a project known as the Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) to protect the interest of girl’s education in five regions in the country.
She said as part of the project, the GAA would run activities to determine gaps within the policies of the hospitality industry and how best to strengthen the measures to protect girls to ensure that they were able to complete the basic cycle of education at least, to delay early pregnancies and marriages.
Mrs Larnyoh said the GAA has identified some gaps in the operating laws and has embarked on an advocacy for the hotel and guest houses to display boldly rules and policies of their facilities to caution people.
The Chief Executive made this known at a stakeholder engagement at a day’s seminar to brainstorm on the way forward in Koforidua.
Participants at the event included members of the Ghana Hoteliers Association, civil society organizations and the media.
She said the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) which had oversight responsibility over the hospitality industry has a bye-law that requires the facilities to display boldly that underage girls were not allowed but this was overlooked in many instances.
Mr Frederick Adjei-Rudolph, Eastern Regional Director GTA, in an interview, confirmed that there were existing laws that checked that young girls under the age of 18 years were not allowed to enter hotel, guest houses or restaurants and drinking spots unless accompanied by parents or guardians.
He said many facilities operated strictly with that bye-law and so were well noted for their ability to turn away such underage girls and it has been the criteria for many hotels winning best facilities awards.
He said once it was a law, all facilities are expected to strictly operate by it and appealed to the public to also be vigilant and report any facility that violates the rules as far as girls protection was concerned to the GTA or any police station for action.