Monday, January 26, 2015

WhatsApp Phones Trigger Teenage Pregnacy Rates in Mion District

A senior officer at the Mion District Social Welfare and Community Development Department, Iddrisu Alhassan Ganiyu has raised serious concern about the alarming rate at which teenage pregnancies are being recorded in the district, in spite of efforts by government to ensure enrolment and retention of girls in school. 

According to him, an average of 30 to 40 teenage girls become pregnant in the district every year and almost 90% of them did not get men to take responsibility for their pregnancies. 

Speaking in an interview with Savannahnews at Mion in the Mion District of the Northern Region, Mr. Ganiyu revealed that every year, an estimated 15 to 20% of the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates in the district get pregnant or give birth to children even before their final exams.

He said that the Social Welfare and Community Development department had done its assessments and could confirm that the rate of teenage pregnancy in the district was prevalent in the rural parts of the Mion District. 

He said that the department with support from UNICEF had formed Community Child Protection Teams to advocate on the dangers of teenage pregnancies, early or force marriage and child trafficking among others. 

Mr. Iddrisu Alhassan Ganiyu indicated that the department had registered most of the girls with teenage pregnancies and counseled them to go back to school after birth.

He revealed that the rate of teenage pregnancies was more alarming in the remotest communities of the district, and that the men involved were mostly married men already with plenty children.

Mr. Ganiyu emphasized although the Social Welfare Department and the District Directorate of the Ghana Education Service had put in place several measures to curtail the situation, most parents in the district had neglected their responsibilities and they know little or nothing about the welfare of their children.

He said that most of the teenage girls were being lured into bed or being deceived by the men to exchange their “bodies with money and whatsApp phones”. “Every girl nowadays wants to use whatsApp phone and because of that they easily fall for those irresponsible but bragging men”.

He asserted that most of the girls interviewed attested to the fact that they accepted monies and gifts from those men because their parents always failed to give them money for school or buy sanitary pads, panties and other items they needed.

Savannahnews in a visit to Mion encountered one Sumaya Abdulai, a 13 year old girl who is already a mother of one year old baby boy.

Sumaya Abdulai is one of the many young teenage girls who are out of school due to unplanned pregnancies. She dropped out of school at primary four (4) when her father purportedly decided to give her out as a housemaid to a certain woman for financial gain. Sumaya told Savannahnews that the man who made her pregnant is a corn mill operator who has partially refused to accept responsibility for her pregnancy. 

According to Sumaya, her dream was to become a professional doctor or nurse, but her father’s decision to withdraw her from school has indeed cut short her future ambitions. 

She asserted that her father before withdrawing her from school was not paying her school fees, buying her books, dresses and was not even giving her money for feeding, a situation, which according to her influenced her decision to accept to be in secret relationship with the young man, who finally got her pregnant. 

“When I met him he told me he loves me and I told him that I was a small girl. But he told me that he will not do anything with me and also promised to buy me mobile phone which he really did including some dresses. I realized that he was good to me and anytime I went to grind our corn he did not take money from me, so I started visiting him and he also started sending for me and finally I slept with him. When my father sent me to Kumasi to stay with that woman, I found out after two months that I was three to four months pregnant so the woman brought me back to my father. My parents asked me who was responsible and I mentioned the guy. He told my parents that he cannot marry me but he will take care of the child. But after I gave birth he has refused to fulfill that promise so it is my mother who is supporting me”. 

Mion DCE, Mankanda
Sumaya Abdulai in tears said that initially, she wanted to commit suicide by poisoning herself and the unborn baby, because her friends were fond of mocking her and her father was also fiercely demanding for her head. 

She intimated that her father was not worried about her future but rather because she could not stay and labour or work as a housemaid to bring money to the house. 

Sumaya who is still aiming to go back to school to pursue her future aspiration of becoming a nurse or doctor asserted that she finally consoled herself after realizing that she was not the only teenage girl who was pregnant in the community.

Her major concern now is about how to work to cater for her one year old child and also gather some money to go back to school. “I go to farm with my mother and help her to do her fried yam business before I get food to eat everyday”. 

Sumaya’s mother, Madam Salamatu Yakubu (a petty trader) who is now supporting her and the baby told Savannahnews that she was willing to send Sumaya back to school but for now she did not have the money.

She sadly confirmed the ordeal of little Sumaya since she became pregnant. According to her, Sumaya’s pregnancy brought a lot of disgrace to her as a mother but she duly blamed her husband for his refusal to equally cater for his female children just as he did for his male children.

Efforts to speak with the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Mion, Mr. Dan Makandan on how the Assembly was taking steps to improve on the quality of education among girl child proved unsuccessful as his cell phone was out of reach.

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