Teenage pregnancy calls for the attention of Ghanaians. At the end of the academic year when students take their Basic Education Certification Examination (BECE), we often hear on the news about some girls turning up to write their papers pregnant. Statistics differ in different regions of Ghana; for example in the Eastern region alone, 33 females failed to sit their exam as a result of pregnancy in 2009.
The Western region also recorded 572 teenage pregnancies with girls as young as 10 getting pregnant and dropping out of schools. In the Ashanti Region at least 5 girls have sat their BECE while pregnant and a minimum of 3 have entered written their papers as mothers. The average age of these girls is 12. The statistics are much higher and worrisome in other regions of Ghana.
Unfortunately teenagers who get pregnant are solely blamed for their condition. They become “bad girl” at the mercy of societies scorn. Instead of providing a support system they are punished, some are kicked out of their homes while others are ridiculed by the hour. One would think perhaps it is possible for girls to get pregnant all by themselves. In recent news, a mother in the Northern region butchered her 22 year old pregnant daughter. Murder suddenly becomes less of a crime in the eyes of a disappointed mother as though pregnancy ever where a crime.
Teenage births form a high percentage of the total births in the country. Poor education on sexual health and reproductive health rights is wrecking the lives of many girls in Ghana. The nonexistence of a supportive system for pregnant girls encourages unsafe abortions, complications and deaths. Good nutritional therapy and ante-natal care is often not mentioned as rights for pregnant girls. Many girls and women after giving birth are not able to continue their education. Without encouraging teenage girls to get pregnant, I insist that teenage pregnancy is not a crime and should not be a burden of the girl alone. Sex education and making condoms accessible to both girls and boys is the best way to reduce the rates of teen pregnancy.