E/R: Men in Ofoase-Ayirebi deny impregnating 100 minor girls

E/R: Men in Ofoase-Ayirebi deny impregnating 100 minor girls

In the Ofoase Ayirebi constituency in the Eastern region, a hundred teenage mothers are facing difficulties in finding fathers for their children, as the men believed to be responsible for their pregnancies have denied any responsibility.

The Ark Development Organization, a non-profit organization implementing a UNICEF-funded intervention called “Safe and Protective Environment for Adolescent Development (SPREAD),” is actively working to combat the issue of teenage pregnancy in the area. According to their findings, they identified 153 teenage mothers in the district in 2022. 

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However, out of this number, a hundred children do not have any knowledge of their fathers.

During a sensitization program held in the Abenase community, David Kwaning, the Project Officer for the Ark Development Organization, shared concerning information with Starr News. He stated that they had identified 153 adolescent mothers, and the number continues to rise, with over 70 teenage mothers identified at the time of speaking. The most disheartening aspect of this situation is that a majority of the men responsible for impregnating these girls have refused to accept their responsibilities.

In one particular community, a girl claimed that three men were responsible for her pregnancy, but she couldn’t identify the specific person who impregnated her. This situation is deeply troubling, as it indicates that in the future, there may be over 100 children who do not know their fathers.

The Ofoase Ayirebi constituency in the Akyemansa District of the Eastern Region has been experiencing pervasive sexual and gender-based violence against minors. The alarming rates of early pregnancy are a direct result of many teenage girls falling victim to sexual abuse.

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Starr News Eastern Regional Correspondent Kojo Ansah has uncovered numerous horrifying stories of these victims, who have suffered at the hands of perpetrators who roam freely.

One of these tragic stories involves a 14-year-old from Akyem Anyinase, whose identity is protected due to her status as a school-aged child. Her life took a nightmarish turn when a 60-year-old farmer exploited her vulnerability and subjected her to unspeakable abuse. The victim, who is now six months pregnant, revealed that the cousin of her abuser had initially impregnated her, but the abuser and his wife forced her to undergo an abortion. Tragically, the man later engaged in non-consensual sexual intercourse with her, resulting in her current pregnancy.

“I relocated from Akyem Anyinase to stay with him(abuser) at Akwatia when my father died. I stopped schooling and went to the farm with him. His cousin impregnated me but they aborted it. He sent me to a Clinic and they gave him some medicine so I drank one tablet and the wife inserted another into my vagina. Then later the man slept with me at Adwobie community when we go to farm and impregnated me. He threatened me not to tell anyone that if I do, he will send me to the shrine in his hometown to kill me. He brought me back to Akyem Anyinase and abandoned me that he is not responsible for the pregnancy because the baby doesn’t look like him.”

Rejected by her mother, a widow, she found a lifeline in the form of a compassionate woman, Abena Ampomaa, who is demanding justice for her.

“I want him to be arrested. How can a 60-year-old man do this to this innocent girl? You have also abandoned her and the baby,” Abena Ampomaa insisted.

Another victim, also 14 years old and in class six, had her future abruptly halted by a 20-year-old man who left her with a child at the tender age of 12.

Education became an unattainable dream as she faced the harsh realities of early motherhood.

“Things were difficult for me. My father couldn’t provide what I needed. So, I met a certain guy who said he wants us to date so he supports me. I agreed but I ruled out sexual intercourse. One day he lured me into his room and had sex with me which got me pregnant. I was 14 to 15 years. The baby is now 2 years. I want to continue my education outside this community because of stigma but it is difficult for me now the guy is unable to take care of us,” said Awurama.

These stories echo the pain endured by young girls in Kwaboadi No. 1 Junior High School, where this 17-year-old aspiring nurse who is nine months pregnant, fights to preserve her ambitions.

“I was Impregnated by a man who decided to take care of me because my mother couldn’t provide my needs. I am now nine months pregnant. I want to be a nurse. I am not happy with my situation. I won’t marry the man.”

In the Bontodiase community, two siblings were subjected to the horrifying ordeal of sexual abuse and subsequently impregnated by their abusers. The victims, a 17-year-old third-year junior high school student, and her 18-year-old sister in her first year in senior high school have had their lives forever altered.

The 18-year-old first-year Home Economics student of Ofoase Senior High School is facing expulsion from the school as a result of the pregnancy.

“They said they can’t allow a pregnant form one student to be in the school that if I were in form 2 or 3 they would have managed. So, I am in the house but after delivery, I will continue my education. I want to become a military officer.”

Kwadwo Kwaning, their distressed father, chose not to report the abuse, instead accepting money as an out of court settlement, unknowingly perpetuating the cycle of injustice.

In Akyem Akokoaso, two siblings, 15 and 12-year-old girls were abducted by a group of men riding motorcycles, commonly known as okada riders, and subjected to horrifying acts of gang rape within the confines of a single room.

Sadly, the 12-year-old girl, just a child herself, now carries the burden of a five-month pregnancy.

The grandmother of the victims is demanding justice.

“Their mother travelled to Saudi Arabia but suffered stroke before returning to Ghana. So, I have been taking care of her two daughters. So, it is painful what these Okada people have done to my daughter. Sadly, the mother of the guy is threatening to invoke curses on my daughter if he insists the boy is responsible for the pregnancy,” Madam Hagan told Starr News.

Dreams shattered, education abandoned, and futures left hanging by a thread. These girls, once full of hope, now battle against overwhelming odds.

Stephania Amissah Brikorang, in charge of Girl Child Education in the Akyemansa District Education Directorate, said most of the abusers are Okada riders. She cited an instance where an Okada rider impregnated three students in same school.

Currently only nine (9) of the BECE candidates are pregnant in the district a marginal success attributed to the SPREAD Project.

“The rate of teenage pregnancy in our district was very high but due to this intervention, the rate has reduced so we are praying that the message that we have sent across the children will inculcate so it helps them abstain to reduce teenage pregnancy and then help them in their education. Last year I had 10 BECE candidates pregnant and this year around 8 or 9. The form two students pregnant is very high; about 12 in the district,” Stephania Amissah Birikorang said.

The District Education Director, Akua Ayisi said the rising sexual assault incidence points to a deep-rooted issue—poverty which makes girls vulnerable to manipulative abusers.

She said the inability of teenage girls to afford things as basic as sanitary pads can lead to desperate measures that make them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

According to the WHO, girls who give birth before adulthood are likely to bear increased health risks, social stigma, and adverse economic impacts for the rest of their lives.

The SDG Target 3.7, therefore, seeks to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes of countries

Ark Development Organization, in collaboration with UNICEF, has been actively implementing a two-year initiative named “Safe and Protective Environment for Adolescent Development (SPREAD)” in the Akyemansa District. This project has achieved significant progress over the past two years in combating the widespread issue of sexual and gender-based violence.

David Kwaning, the Project Officer of Ark Development Organization, shared that a total of 207 teenage mothers were identified from the previous year until the first quarter of 2023. Encouragingly, seven of these teenage mothers received support and were able to return to school. Kwaning remains optimistic that as the project concludes this year, there will be further reductions in teenage pregnancy cases.

Emmanuel Kwarfo Minta, the Executive Director of Ark Development Organization, highlighted the success of raising public awareness regarding the detrimental impact of teenage pregnancy and sexual abuse on adolescent girls and the wider community. Minta also indicated ongoing efforts to engage the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVSSU) in seeking justice for the victims.

Through the joint efforts of Ark Development Organization, UNICEF, and their partners, the SPREAD project is playing a vital role in addressing the pressing issue of sexual and gender-based violence in the Akyemansa District. By providing support to teenage mothers, raising awareness, and pursuing justice, they are making a positive impact on the lives of adolescent girls and the community as a whole.

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