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Religion of Monday, 24 June 2019

Source: ghananewsagency.org

Religious leaders commit to intensify education on adolescent reproductive rights

Religious leaders in the Central Region have re-affirmed their unalloyed support and commitment to intensify education on adolescent reproductive issues as well as sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) that infringed on the rights of adolescents and children.

They will equip adolescents with knowledge, skills, values and timely information required to make responsible choices about their sexual and social relationships.

The education would be segmented into age groups interspersed with culturally relevant messages on sex and relationships through scientifically accurate, realistic and non-judgmental information on their behavioural and attitudinal challenges.

Imam Ibrahim Mohammed, Ekumfi Circuit Imam, announced this on behalf of religious leaders at a day's stakeholders’ workshop to build the capacity of leaders of Faith Based Organizations (FBO) to scale up public education and support mechanisms for victims of sexual and Gender Based violence (SGBV).

The engagement held in Cape Coast on Wednesday, was organized by the Department of Gender in collaboration with the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), UNFPA and funded by the Canadian Government.

As a means of achieving that feat, the religious leaders called for a stronger collaboration between Christians, Muslims and other faiths to effectively set the parameters on adolescents’ reproductive health education.

They also advocated massive investment in recreational and social infrastructure by government, FBOs and support agencies to offer protection to victims of SGBV and also support the poor and needy with income generating activities.

They charged parents to put premium on the needs of their children by providing their basic needs such as shelter, health, food, education and security.

Ms. Amanda Odoi, Senior Research Assistance at the Centre for Gender Research, Advocacy and Documentation (CEGRAD), of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), who facilitated the discussion underscored the role of religious leaders in sex education.

She indicated that immediate interventions of religious and traditional leaders remained key to increasing the knowledge and understanding of adolescents on their reproductive health to help identify adolescents’ sexual needs to promote and sustain behavioural change.

She asked Parents and leaders not to shy away from educating children and adolescents on sex life, because some adolescents were already having sex and had multiple partners unknown to parents and tasked them to seize every moment to honestly, openly and directly listen without being judgmental, but monitor and supervise their activities.

Talking about sex with children does not make or encourage them to be sexually active but rather help protect themselves since sexual desires in adolescents was natural.

She enumerated some consequences of lack of sex education to include ignorance, unwanted pregnancies, STIs, curtailed education and adolescent marriage and cohabitation.

Mrs. Thywill Eyra Kpe, Regional Director of the Department of Gender, asked them to do away with any tradition and custom that affected the wellbeing of children such as marrying off teenage pregnant girls to safeguard family honour.

She effectively schooled them on child marriage and the role of FBOs, Gender issues, Children's Act 1998, child protection and the consequences associated with it.

She mentioned some types of gender violence to include sexual, physical, psychological and economic violence like rape, incest, defilement and child labour, adding that they were social misdeeds that often led to untimely deaths and affect health and marriage life of the victims.