A number of young girls end up with a child or two which they just aren’t ready for. The fact that a young girl just conceives out of the blue is ample testimony to the fact that those babies are just some unwanted or unplanned incidents which they may even detest. The idea is clearly just to have some fun or to make ends meet and not necessarily to have babies.
Regrettably, most of the girls are forced to single-handedly cater for the children as the fathers, probably equally young unemployed men do not live up to their parental responsibilities. Horrible stories have been told of some of these teenage mothers out of frustration physically killing their children, throwing them into toilets or dumping them into rubbish dumps. Of course the idea is to get rid of the baby so that they can continue with their lives.
In the case of sixteen-year-old Afi for instance, she was forced to drop out of school at primary six after she got pregnant with her first born who is now four years old. With a second child who is just nine months old, she is forced to accept whatever meager amount she receives from the father of her children.
‘I gave birth as a teenager due to lack of parental care to provide my basic needs,’ she tells Rite FM. ‘I was pushed into taking a boyfriend due to financial hardships I encountered. I have now learnt my lessons although too late. For now, I aspire to learn bread baking in order to support herself and her children.’
Madam Korkor, mother to Afi also laments about the fact that the father of her daughter’s children gives very little care to the children. According to her, though she has no trade, she nevertheless through her daily toils is able to feed her family including her two grandchildren. She says her daughter dropped out at primary six as a mother and though the baby has a father, he is not responsible.
Though the harm has already been done, she’s doing her best to enroll her daughter in a trade or apprenticeship.
In 2014, out of a total of 3968 ante-natal cases recorded by the Lower Manya Krobo Municipal Health directorate, 553 of them, representing 13.9% were young girls between ten to nineteen years. The figure increased to 612 in 2015 representing 16.75% of 3657 which represented, all ante-natal cases recorded in the municipality. The figure reduced slightly in 2016 where 584 cases representing 16.27% of a total of 3590 ante-natal cases recorded at the hospital were between the ages of 10-19.
Head of Maternity Ward at the Atua government hospital, Madam Mary Abotsi explained that the rate of teenage pregnancy for 2016 was lower than that of 2015 because of the massive education her outfit carried out on the menace of teenage pregnancy and its consequences. On what she believes to be the cause of the high rate of teenage pregnancies, madam explained that the causes are difficult to ascertain as the girls find it difficult opening up to them.
Based on their own observations however, she said most of the cases are as a result of irresponsible parenting and lack of parental control.
But do young girls who are not yet mothers take any cue at all from their peers? What lessons do they take from their friends and sisters who find themselves struggling in the face of teenage pregnancies?
Rose, a sister to Afi vows to take cue from her sister’s predicament and guard against she also falling victim. One lesson she derives from Afi’s situation, she disclosed, was that her sister had not been herself and will learn from her predicament to prevent such situation.
‘I see that my sister has not been happy from the beginning because she was pregnant. I know teenage pregnancy refers to pregnancy involving girls between the ages of 12-19 and I’ve vowed to take good care of myself not to associate with boys or stand the risk of getting pregnant. I must be serious with my academics instead,’ Rose added
I call it a craze and don’t know what your opinion is but this has become more of a fashion. The phenomenon of teenage girls with a child to their ‘credit’ is alarming and unimaginable. This is so widespread in the Krobo communities that you’re tempted to believe that it’s a competition.
Kani who is also a teenage mother of two gave birth when she was in JHS1. She has now realized her mistake after being abandoned by the man who impregnated her. What forced her into giving birth was the divorce between her parents and her father’s subsequent refusal to cater for her and her siblings which left the family in a financially disadvantaged position. This resulted in she subsequently dropping out of school as a result of her mother’s inability to single-handedly cater for her school needs.
Currently, her only source of income is selling of eggs and oranges through which she’s able to fend for herself and her kids. Her little advice for her peers; stay concentrated on your books in order that you don’t end up like me.
Another young woman who hopes not to fall victim to teenage pregnancy is Selina, a JHS 2 student. She stresses that she deems it necessary to advise her friends to be serious with their books and prevent all forms of activities that can end them up in becoming teenage mothers.
Curious to find out about any health implications or special challenges teenagers face when in labor or during delivery due to them giving birth at such tender ages, madam Abotsi replied in the negative, that labor pain is the same whether young or old.
Asked whether these teenagers are accompanied to the hospitals by any relatives or they come on their own, she answered that most of them come with their relatives especially from the girl’s side while others are lucky to have their men who impregnated them accompanying them.
Thirteen-year-old Victoria sympathizes with the situation of her peers who are falling victim to the scourge of teenage pregnancies. She describes their situation as miserable and expresses her determination to do well to avoid finding herself in similar situations.
Do parents pretend that it is okay for their lads to sleep over with their girlfriends or boyfriends, or they should let kids be kids and bend their heads into their books, instead? The assumption is that these teenagers are at the age of experimentation: They are sexually active and would find ways of doing it anyway. Would it be smart parenting if parents counseled them against diseases and pregnancies?
I recall the Paramount Chief of the Kwamankese Traditional Council in the Central Region, Nana Aidan Andoh X during the latter part of last year, warning that he will deal ruthlessly with any boy or man who impregnates girls below the age of 13 in the area. He said the Council would in 2017 not tolerate such disgraceful act, which he said, has seen a lot of teenage girls drop out of school in the area.
The renowned chief added that the various chiefs in the Traditional Area would enact laws to check the menace, noting that they will seek the backing of government for such a law to become enforceable. According to him, the rate at which girls aged 13 and below were being impregnated in the area was alarming, indicating that it was unfortunate that some men who ought to know better were engaged in such acts.
I however believe that parents of teenage girls who are impregnated should equally not be spared in the punishment just as the offenders and this should , hence urged all parents to be responsible in the upbringing of their children and charged the various chiefs to be vigilant and ensure that the incidence of teenage pregnancies were curtailed in their communities.
It’s quite bizarre in some circumstances to see teenagers sometimes with two or three children. Kate, a nineteen-year-old girl at Agomanya in the Lower Manya Krobo municipality for instance first conceived at age twelve and was already a mother by age thirteen. Today, at nineteen, she has three children.