By: Helena Selby
Teenage pregnancy has been one of the societal problems which triggers the vicious cycle of poverty today, apart from it causing an uncontrollable increase in populations. The rate at which incidents of teenage pregnancy sometimes drop to a low rate, and at other times increases at a drastic rate, making it evident that the situation it is stronger than the fight being waged against it.
Apart from curiosity and the lack of sex education, which leads some teenagers into this situation, most are victims of teenage pregnancy through no fault of theirs. As part of the teenage development stage, many teenagers become curious about the rapid changes in their body, and the strange passion of emotional feelings and attraction for the opposite sex.
It is during this period, that teenagers, if see in movies or in magazines, resulting in teenage pregnancy.
According to reports in 2009, about 16 million teenage girls become mothers every year, while about 34% of young women become pregnant, at least once, before reaching the age of 20.
Teenagers, who despite their body changes do not engage in any experiments of their strange emotional and sexual feelings, turn out unlucky in the mist of lustful men in society. Reports as well indicate that between 11 and 20 per cent of pregnancies in teenagers are a direct result of rape, while about 60 per cent of teenage mothers had unwanted sexual experiences preceding their pregnancy.
Before age 15, a majority of first-intercourse experiences among females are reported to be non-voluntary. In Ghana, incidents of defilement almost happen on a daily basis. Those enlightened about how serious the offence is to the public and the individual, report such incidents to police, but the majority prefer to keep quiet and settle it at home, due to societal disgrace and the fear that victims might not get a partner in future.
pregnancy in Ghana
Teenage pregnancy in Ghana is one of societal problems that the government as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are trying to fight against. Reporst on teenage pregnancy in Ghana become frequent during the sitting of the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE).
In view of this, in the early part of this year, a report from the Lower Manya Krobo District Assembly (LMKD) of Odumase in the Eastern Region of the country was that all female students who were preparing to write the BECE would undergo pregnancy tests before they are allowed to write the exams.
This reason behind the activity was to control teenage pregnancy, which is high in the area, and that in 2009 alone, over 33 female students failed to write the BECE, as a result of pregnancy.
In the Shama District of the Western Region, it was reported that there was mass failures of children in the area in the BECE, and that about 572 teenage pregnancies were recorded in the district.
Meanwhile, during the same year, 2009, it was reported by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the Volta Region’s teenage pregnancy rate had declined from 13.5 per cent in 2007, to 12.9 per cent in 2009, and has remained stable. This was due to health promotion, behavioural change, communication, and campaigns to get children of school-going age, especially girls, to attend school.
Not a single day passes without an incident of defilement. The majority of men refuse to direct their lustful desires to the right places, but rather to victims who have no idea how it even feels like. In Ghana, defilement is a common phenenoma, which sometimes are not even well documented.
Many girls before going past their teens have been either been defiled by a teacher, father, uncle, an outsider, or sometimes a fellow age mate. The extent to which this even has been happening is not always recorded, due to the fact that the majority of the families involved prefer to settle the issue at home, to prevent the victim from suffering the stigma of humiliation.
Madam Regina Ewusi decided to withdraw a case she filed against one Mawuli Addo, 27, for defiling her 16 year old daughter. According to her, her daughter is pregnant, and she has no intention of letting her abort it, as the family of Mawuli had taken the decision that the girl stay with them, and after delivery, they would take care of her education.
Role of puberty rite in teenage pregnancy
In the olden days, traditional practices and education always made girls vigilant about their sexuality. Parents made sure their wards were well protected and educated on the issues of sex, so as not to bring any form of disgrace to the family, in case of pre-marital sex.
Many girls felt delighted to be chaste, in order to enable them go through puberty rites. Puberty rite is one of the positive cultures ever to exist in many communities in Ghana. It is a rite which used to be cherished by many communities in the days gone by, since it served as a form of check on the sexuality of girls in the community.
As puberty is a period where a child has physical changes to become an adult and is capable of sexual reproduction, it was deemed right to perform a rite for those at that stage. Puberty rite is a rite which enables girls to showcase their feminism to their community.
The rite gives the girl better prospects of having a husband of her dreams, and as well gain the respect of the community and her peers. The importance given to this rite in the olden days served a good purpose in the prevention of teenage pregnancies in communities.
Parents educated their wards about the importance of the rite, and the wards had it in mind that the rite would make them into good women, wives, and mothers someday.
However, things seem to have changed now, due to technology and modernity. Modernity, through western culture, has turned round to corrupt the culture of puberty rites in many communities in Ghana.
Many girls see it has shameful to engage in such rites, and even feel outdated when she is still chaste at the age 16 years. The relevance of puberty rites seem outdated from the look of things, as it is even rarely heard of nowadays.
Life in a modern society has a big role to play in the occurrences of teenage pregnancies off late, as gone were the days when parents were so dedicated in the raising up their children, that they were so much interested in protecting their children from disgrace and preventing any activity that will destroy their future.
Today, the situation is not the same, as many parents dedicate the greater part of their day to finding money to take care of the home. Both the man and the woman have no time in even taking care of the child.
The only way they believe the child needs to taken care of is being able to provide for the child financially. The majority of parents today concentrate on the financial needs of the child, rather than the emotional and sex educational needs.
The child is barely monitored at home, and even exposed to all kinds of movies and television programmes which are not suitable for them, or need parental guidance to watch. Many parents of today ignore their responsibility of educating the child sexually, but always leave it in the hands of their teachers, while sometimes the teachers mess them up by defiling them.
For parents who are not able to provide financial support for their children, they as well refuse to provide emotional and sex education to their children. This make the children fall into hands of men who have difficulty in controlling their libidos, so in the end give these girls help in exchange for their bodies.
The lack of parental guidance and advice results in these girls living their lives without knowing what it really entails in giving out their bodies in exchange for a fee. According to research, 85 per cent of teen pregnancies are unintentional. Many teenagers become pregnant due to the lack of good educational background, employment opportunities, or help from loved ones.
Teenage pregnancy is a societal problem which gradually is tarnishing the growth of women. The futures of these girls are destroyed due to teenage pregnancy, leaving them to their fate most of the times.
The nation’s vision to stop the existence of the vicious cycle of poverty will be thwarted, as teenage pregnancy is one of the main problems creating the vicious cycle of poverty. It is up to parents to be vigilant in the raising of their wards, and schools intensifying sex education and reporting teachers involved in defilement of school children.
The consequence of teenage pregnancy is not effected on the girl alone, but the nation as well, as the nation will have to divert some of it resources in combating the vicious cycle of poverty, of which teenage pregnancy is one of the major causes.