Young girls have been advised against indulging in early sexual intercourse to avoid contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) with other unpleasant consequences.
Professor Juliana Yartey Enos, an Associate Professor at the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, said indulging in premarital sex at an early age, could result in death or deprive victims the opportunity to achieve their dreams.
She said a single sexual encounter could end one’s life physically in death or deprive them the opportunity to develop resulting from complications that might arise after the act.
Prof. Enos was speaking at the opening of the fourth Northern Ghana Sexual Reproductive Health Right (SRHR) Conference for Young People (NORGHA) in Tamale.
The four-day conference, organised by Norsaac, a civil society organisation and its partners, is being attended by over 400 young people and women drawn from the Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East and Upper West Regions,
It seeks to bring to bear some of the practical concerns pertaining to SRHR to enable national decision-makers to make informed policies on SRHR for individuals.
The conference is also to provide a secure environment for young people to freely share their opinions on issues pertaining to their SRHR as well as establish a forum where all participants can talk about their concerns related to SRHR without fear or threats.
Prof. Enos, spoke on the theme: ‘The Future of Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Ghana: The Threats of Social Norms and the Confusion in Policy on SRHR.’
She explained that whilst a single sex act could end the life of a girl, the situation was not the same for boys.
She said, ‘For the boy, it is not the same. That single sex act is forgotten, and he can move on, get on with his life, achieve his education, achieve his dreams, get a good job, marry another wife, have children, have a family and continue with his life.’
‘I have seen a lot of these where the girl’s life has ended with a single sexual act and the boy’s life continues and he does not even remember that girl that he contributed to killing,’ he said.
Prof. Enos urged girls to prioritise their education and saying, ‘The antidote to that single sex act that leads to your death is to maintain your education.’
She advised girls to remain in school and focus on their studies as the only way to keep your dreams alive.
She said statistics showed that currently, one in seven adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 in the country, had either given birth or was currently pregnant while girls from poor households were five times more likely to give birth before the age of 20 than those in richer homes, and one in five of adolescent pregnancies ends up in an induced abortion.
Professor Enos urged young girls to access SRHR services from recognised facilities and organisations to help them to develop appropriately.
SRHR services enable young individuals to be protected from harmful behaviours as they provide information and resources that enable them to navigate the adolescent period of life safely and to avoid experimentation.
SRHR services enable young people to develop and adopt important life skills that are critical for success and enabling them to choose when to marry, when to have a child, how many children to have, effective use of contraception and family planning services, as well as to have as much education as they want and to pursue a career.
Mr Alhassan Mohammed Awal, the Executive Director of Norsaac, said whilst the adolescent stage was a crucial and sensitive period in an individual’s life, social norms and limited understanding of SRHR tended to pose threats to the growth of young people.
He entreated participants to be agents for action, commit yourselves to bringing change by advocating for SRHS among yourselves and others.
Source: Ghana News Agency