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Christians must be child rights advocates

Volta child welfare director urges Christian leaders to advocate the rights of youth and arm them with information on social ills such as teenage pregnancy

Ghana News Agency (Adidome, Volta Region) – Israel Aklorbortu, Volta regional director of the Department of Children, has called on religious groups, and especially Christian leaders, to play key roles in advocating the rights of children and teenagers.

He said children had rights, including freedom from discrimination, information and education on sexual reproductive health, and re-entry to school to enable teenage mothers to continue their education. All children, he said, must have access to them.

Aklorbortu argued that respect for these rights will enable young people, and teenage girls in particular, to make the right decisions for themselves in life regarding their health, well-being and dignity. It was time churches played a part in that process, he said.

Adolescent pregnancy

“Let the churches preach the gospel,” Aklorbortu said. “But beyond that they should allow people who are actors in the area of child protection also to engage the children.

“I always say that the technological world these children are born into is far different from ours. Therefore, before we take decisions for them, we must engage them, for they know the solutions to their problems.”

He made these remarks while presenting a lecture on issues affecting teenagers at a forum by the Department of Gender at Adidome in the Volta Region. The event was organised with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The one-day forum was a follow-up to one held last year, which was an all-men and boys’ engagement to discuss issues relating to teenage pregnancy. The event sought to go through the recommendations for acceptance and use in ten communities as a pilot project, and aimed to reduce adolescent pregnancy and child marriage in the Central Tongu District.

The regional director said it was important that measures be put in place to protect children from such threats as child trafficking, substance abuse, online violence and teenage pregnancy, which could destroy their lives and, by extension, Ghana’s future.

Comfort Seglah, Central Tongu district director of the Department of Social Welfare, called on parents to assign household chores equally to boys and girls so as not to overburden girls.

She said that socialisation would help boys learn how to “do simple things like cooking and washing” which will be useful to them and allow the girls more time for study and other kinds of training. Ghanaians must not believe that the place for a girl is always in the kitchen, Seglah said.

Ewoenam Kpodo

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