Madam Lena Alai, the Volta Regional Director, Department of Gender, has asked opinion leaders to allow men who impregnate girls to suffer the right punishment.
She bemoaned the practice of people obstructing the path of justice by withdrawing cases or not even reporting criminal cases such as rape and defilement against girls to the appropriate quarters, saying such situations urged men to indiscriminately impregnate girls knowing they would be spared.
Madam Alai said this at an advocacy forum for stakeholders on prevention/reduction of teenage pregnancy/child marriage, organised at Adidome in the Central Tongu District by the Department, with funding support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
She admonished participants who would later form watchdog committees in their respective communities to effect the needed change to “observe the rights of children” cautioning that “issues of rape and defilement must no longer be handled in the chief’s palace.”
The Regional Director said efforts must be made to mitigate the increasing rate of teenage girls becoming pregnant as that intensified the poverty cycle, which would cost the District, Region and the nation greatly “as children from dysfunctional families would hardly grow into useful citizens to contribute to national development.”
Madam Justine Sefakor Alornyo, Central Tongu District Director of Health Services, who disclosed that 169 teenage girls got pregnant from January to May this year, blamed the lack of parental control on the phenomenon and charged parents to do their best to safeguard the future of their young ones.
She entreated health workers to respect the rights of teenagers to access family planning methods to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Family planning was not to promote promiscuity among young ones but would help protect those sexually active who would ignore all counselling to indulge in sexual acts from ruining their lives and future, she added.