“Cross your leg; 100% cross Your leg” is now a popular slogan among adolescents in Akyemansa District in Eastern Region as part of fight against alarming teenage pregnancy cases in the area.
The slogan was coin as part of a project dubbed “Safe and Protective Environment for Adolescent Development (SPREAD)” being implemented in 40 rural communities in the district by Ark Development Organization (ADO), an NGO.
The SPREAD project is sponsored by UNICEF in partnership with Global Affairs Canada.
“One slogans that we have adopted going to the communities, basic and secondary schools that they have to cross their legs. So the young men will say cross your leg(because men normally open the legs) so the men will say Cross your Leg then the girls will say 100% cross your Leg meaning they are not going to open the legs again to maintain their virginity to reach adulthood”. Emmanuel Kwarfo Minta Project Director at Ark Development Organization told Starr News.
Akyemansa district which is a farming and cocoa growing community was second highest in 2021 in terms of early teenage pregnancy in Eastern region and fifth highest in late teenage pregnancy cases.
A total of 364 teenage pregnancy cases were recorded at the Antenatal Care units of the various health facilities in 2021 and 190 recorded as at midyear of 2022 in the district.
Denis Takyi Duku, Deputy Education Director in Charge of supervision and Monitoring at Ghana Education Service , Akyemansa district blames the high teenage pregnancy cases on poverty and Okada operators.
“We largely blame the high teenage pregnancy to the Okada boys having an affair with the girls .In fact between 70 and 80% of all girls who get pregnant could be apportion to the Okada boys. They may be responsible. For instance we had an issue at the Social Welfare where two boys impregnated a particular girl. The Okada boys they work every day so they get some amount of money and once they have money they are able to convince some of the girls buying them some gifts for example phones especially in the evening when they buy food for them. The girls or ladies become convinced that they are the guys who can help them and that is what is digging the grave of the future of these girls”. Denis Takyi Duku explained.
Some parents agree that, worsening economic hardship males it difficult to meet the needs of their children pushing the young girls into immoral acts therefore appealed to government to provide some economic empowerment opportunities for them.
“The economy is hard. They don’t buy anything .We are unable to take care of our children. So some of our children are going wayward. Immoral activities all over the communities “. A parent said.
Akyemansa district is one of the districts that Performs poorly in the Eastern region as far as BECE is concerned.
In 2020 for instance, four schools in the district recorded zero percent in the BECE.
Rate of School dropout is also high
The Ghana Education Service in the district largely blames the situation increasing “boyfriend girlfriend” relationship involving teenage girls.
The project officer of Ark Development Organization, David Kwaning says 89 of 369 adolescent mothers recorded in 2020 have so far been identified for assistance to go back to school or enrolled in economic empowerment program or legal aide.
“Per what the Ghana Education Service gave us, we have about 369 adolescent mothers in the district as at 2020.so we are to identify them and then assist them in three ways. Some of them have to go back to school, others too need justice ,other too need health assistance .So we have identified 89 of the Adolescent mothers” David Kwaning Project Officer said
Meanwhile the NGO is initiating legal action against a man who took undue advantage of a 12 year old vulnerable girl who dropped out of school after her father died, exploited her in child labour, defiled and impregnated her.
The project has reached 1,577 out of target adolescents of 2000 with four months to end.
The teenagers benefited from cyber security, career development, adolescent reproductive health, social protection among others.
However, Stakeholders in the Akyemansa District are however not happy with the project duration therefore want an extension for the gains be sustained to reduce teenage pregnancy to the barest minimum.