N/R: Teenage girls reject abstinence for family planning

Teenage girls in basic and junior high schools at Gnani, a community in the Yendi District of the Northern Region, are rejecting sexual abstinence for family planning methods to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The crave for sex among the teenagers, some of who are as young as 14 years and betrothed to older men, has forced seven girls of the Gnani Basic School to adopt family planning methods at the community’s Health Centre since January this year. Officials of the facility say the girls mostly visit the health centre on the blindside of their parents and those they are betrothed to, and when they are advised to abstain from sex, they rather opt for family planning methods. Midwife of the Gnani Health Centre, Margaret Kpemaal, told 3News that not even the side effects of the various family planning methods could deter the girls from choosing that method when they show up at the facility. According to her, when the girls are given all the information on the family planning methods including the dangers associated, they still maintain their grounds and opt for the ones they prefer. She said one junior high school student has opted for the longest family planning so far, lasting five years. The midwife admitted that the administering of the contraceptives to these teenagers are not right, it prevents the girls from getting pregnant which eventually truncate their education because once they get pregnant, they are forced into marriages. “ We advice mostly the betrothed ones to take the family planning without the permission and knowledge of their husbands. When these girls fail to get pregnant for their husbands they are left to go back to their homes and that means the girl gets to complete her education without any hindrance,” Ms Kpemaal told 3News. Available statistics show that a total of 15 basic and junior high school pupils at Gnani between the ages of 14 and s16 were impregnated and dropped out of school in the 2015/2016 academic year. According to education authorities in the area, the situation has become a challenge for the district. Headmistress of the Gnani school, Mary Magdalene Dery, wants desperate measures taken to curb the alarming rate of teenage pregnancy in the community, adding the practice of betrothing  by the Konkomba tribe has been the cause of teenage pregnancy. “Girls here are betrothed to older men at birth and all [that] the man does is to help the father of this girl [to] farm each farming season while [he] patiently awaits the growth of his wife. “Most of our teenage girls do not return to school after vacation and usually when you go into it, it is this pregnancy issue. The men have realized the girls refuse them so they find means of luring them to sex and once they get pregnant, they are pulled out of school,” the midwife explained Meanwhile, some girls under the Tuma-Kavi Girl Child Education project who are impregnated are brought back to school after delivery with the help of family members who take up the responsibilities of the babies whiles their mothers are in school.

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By Zubaida Ismail|3news.com|Ghana]]>


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