The media especially radio stations in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis have been urged to dedicate more airtime for discussions and \sensitization on the increasing trend of gender-based violence and social vices involving the youth such teenage pregnancy, truancy and school drop-outs. The call was made by resource persons at a meeting with journalists on the campaign for youth-oriented and gender sensitive topics, organized by the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly as part of the implementation of Twin-Cities in Sustainable Partnership (TCSPP).
The Metro Director of Education, Mrs. Sally Nelly Coleman speaking at the meeting stated that teenage pregnancy, truancy and school drop-outs are the major challenges the directorate is grappling with on students and pupils’ attendance to school. She noted that at the basic level, the directorate recorded 97 cases of truancy after BECE registration, 26 cases of pregnancy and 24 drop-out in 2021 academic year, compared to 83, 28 and 32 cases of truancy, pregnancy and drop-out respectively as at June 2022. At the Senior High School level, Mrs. Coleman announced that the directorate recorded 69 truancy cases in 2021 as against 362 in 2022. The pregnancy cases increased to 35 in 2022 compared to 2021 cases of 19 and school drop-outs also increased to 721 in 2022 as against 102 recorded cases in 2021 academic year.
This is overwhelming and an alarming increment in all the three issues we have highlighted. The moment the students are registered for BECE and WASSCE, some of them decide to come to school, as and when they like, but, not according to the timetable. This is why we have met to help us discuss the way forward to curb such menace in our society,” she said.She attributed the causes of all the three issues to parental negligence and the fact that some of the children have to fend for themselves and therefore abandon classes to engage in menial jobs. Mrs. Coleman added that most of the pregnancy cases the directorate investigated revealed that, majority of the pregnant girls were either influenced by their friends or not living with their parents. She made a special appeal for the government to scrap the taxes on sanitary pads since some men have been taken advantage of the young girls due to the high cost of pads.
The Metro Director stated that her outfit has started a programme to engage stakeholders to identify the possible causes and solutions to the issues. She added that they have been visiting some communities especially along the coast to engage the traditional rulers, religious leaders, Assembly members and parents to discuss measures to curtail the phenomena. She urged parents to be responsive to the education of their children since that will help shape their future.
On her part, Ms. Setina Aboagye, Western Regional Officer for the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit noted that 263 cases of domestic violence were recorded between January and May 2022. The cases reported include Assault 79, Defilement 25, Rape 2, Offensive Conduct 44, Threat of Death 10, Causing Damage 17, Threat of Halm 28 and Failing to Supply Necessary Needs 24. Ms. Aboagye said that most victims of domestic violence are women and children. She added that some adolescent girls and boys as well as men also suffer domestic violence. ‘Sometimes because of our cultural believes, we feel that men should be strong enough to withstand all forms of violence so they just feel shy to come to report cases of domestic abuse. Men, you are encouraged to also report such cases against your wives’ she said. She further noted that most perpetrators of domestic violence are men and boys with few instances of women and girls being reported as culprits.
The Western Regional DVVSU officer urged victims of domestic violence to timely report to Police to ensure proper gathering of evidence for prosecution. She mentioned interference by family members and other influential personalities in the society as one of the major challenges in dealing with domestic violence cases. She cautioned the public that not all domestic violence cases are by law permitted to be settled at home or by family members.
‘Rape and defilement cases cannot be settled at home or between the families of the victim and the perpetrator.
Those who sit or involve themselves in settling such cases can be arrested’ she said.
On the effort by DVVSU to reduce the incidence of domestic violence, Ms. Aboagye noted that the Unit has been collaborating with other partners and stakeholders such as the Department of Social Welfare, Ghana Education Service, MMDAs and the Security Agencies to sensitize the public. She also said that the Unit has been providing counselling and assisting victims to assess medical treatment. She therefore urged the media to support the unit to intensify the campaign against domestic violence. She pledged her readiness to respond to invitations for discussions and sensitization on any radio station or at any public events.