Mr Peter Yalley of the Amasaman Municipal Health Directorate has said between January and August 2021 the municipality recorded 482 teenage pregnancies and called on parents to be vigilant of the movement of their girl-children to prevent them from early sex.
He also urged parents to rebuke their children whenever they go wayward and also encourage them to take their education seriously so that they become responsible adults.
Mr Yalley gave the advice at a day’s workshop organised by the Greater Accra Regional Department of Gender under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection at Amasaman in the Ga West Municipality of the Greater Accra Region.
The UNFPA and the Canadian Government supported the programme, which engaged identifiable groups like chiefs, assembly members, and departmental heads on the negative effects of child marriages concerning their rights and impact on their health.
It was to equip the stakeholders to understand the need to prevent child marriages in their communities.
Madam Matilda Banfro, the Greater Accra Regional Director of the Department of Gender said child marriage was a global problem, spanning continents and cultures and according to available data, 15 million girls worldwide marry before their 18th birthday.
“Additionally, it also indicates further that whilst South Asia records the largest number of child brides, the numbers in Sub-Saharan Africa are quite alarming and increasing by the day and African countries account for 15 out of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage,” she said.
Madam Banfro said at the national level in Ghana, one in five girls (19%) marry or in a union before the age of 18 and that girls living in the five Northern Regions of Ghana (now Northern, Savannah, North Eastern, Upper East, and Upper West Regions) the number had increased to one out of three girls (34%).
“It also indicated that in Ghana girls from rural areas are twice more likely to become child brides than those in the urban area. Similarly, girls from the poorer household are four times more likely to marry than those from richer households.
“The key causes of child marriage include poverty, culture, patriarchy, religion, and gender-based discrimination. Child marriage is a worrisome phenomenon because of its implications such as gender-based violence, poor health, poverty among others,” the Director said.
Madam Banfro said children were legally prohibited from marrying until they were 18 years, however, they were powerless by themselves to refuse marriages when forced into it, which violates their rights, dropping out of school and spousal violence while putting them into pregnancy and associated health dangers.
Madam Juliana Abbey Quaye, the Eastern Regional Director of the Department of Gender advised the youth to avoid alcoholism and other negative vices, which normally push them into early sex and teenage pregnancy.