Workshop on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Young People Ends with Round Table Discussion

The workshop on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Young People has ended with stakeholders calling for the need to intensify education on sexual reproductive and rights of Young People.

Among the issues discussed were the mandates and the core objectives of the various bodies they represented at the workshop and their main activities relating to sexual and reproductive health of young people. Others were interventions developed and implemented by these bodies and their outcomes, and the sister institutions they do partner with.

The District School Health Education Programme (SHEP) Coordinator at Apam, Mrs. Asher Aba Quansah, said SHEP was a health education programme that provided health education to school children. Mrs. Quansah noted that her outfit trained teachers, children and community leaders for effective implementation of school health programmes as well as developing appropriate information, education and communication materials. They also promote habits and values of good hygiene and sanitation practices including hand washing with soap. “We also educate the children to avoid drug, alcohol, and premarital sex. That is why we talk about abstinence”, she added.

Speaking at the workshop, Sergeant Emmanuel Hubada, noted that, formerly, the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) was known as Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) which largely took care of women and children suffering from domestic violence but they later realised that men were being marginalized leading to the change in the name to DOVVSU. He stated that the mandate of DOVVSU was to protect the rights of women and children, arrest and prosecute perpetrators and also advise the general public on crime prevention.

He also stated that as part of their functions, they investigate all women and children related cases involving children in the domestic setting, juvenile cases, and child abuse cases among others. “DOVVSU, we are more or less gender based people. We don’t discriminate against men or women. We handle all cases involving the domestic setting be it male or female”, he added.

The DOVVSU official indicated that their major challenge was gathering of evidence and age determination for defilement cases and pointed out that they usually relied on birth certificates or weighing cards for proof of age and medical forms and in some cases witnesses.  Sergeant Hubada said that without these documents doctors could not help as they (doctors) only give the range of the age of the victims instead of their specific ages.

The Regional Director of the Department of Gender, Mrs. Thywill Eyra Kpe, said there was the need for collaboration between the Birth and Death Registry for effective record keeping which would facilitate the determination of ages.

Speaking on the role of medical doctors, Dr. Dorcas Obiri-Yeboah, of the UCC School of Medical Sciences, stated that doctors only describe their findings. She lamented that sometimes victims came to the hospital several weeks after the incident making gathering of medical evidence difficult and added that there was the need for public education.

Explaining the mandate of CHRAJ, the Assistant Registrar of CHRAJ, Raphael Mike Ocran, stated that it was established in 1992 by an Act of parliament and started official operation in 1993.

Mr. Ocran stated that it is a human right institution and handles anti-corruption cases, violation of fundamental human rights, and administrative injustice. He noted that their objective was to promote human right and protect freedom of citizens. He explained that CHRAJ does not deal with sexual right abuse issues but hand them over to the DOVVSU since they were criminal cases. He further stated that CHRAJ only mediated between victims and perpetrators but does not prosecute. “l think we are missing out on a lot of things.Both parents and teachers are not doing enough. We are too pretentious”, he lamented about the sexual and reproductive health and rights education of young people.

The  participants included the Municipal (SHEP) Coordinator for Komenda, Edina, Eguafo, Abirem (KEEA), Joyce Amuesiwah, Metropolitan SHEP Coordinator for Cape Coast, Rose Amoah, District SHEP Coordinator for Apam, Asher Aba Quansah, Inspector Hannah Kuyole and Sergeant Emmanuel Hubada of DOVVSU-Cape Coast, Assistant Registrar of CHRAJ, Raphael Mike Ocran, the District Director of Health Service –Ajumako Enyan Esiam District, Doris Ahelegbe, the District Director of Health Service – Abura Asebu Kwamankese District, Gifty Ankrah, Michael Tagoe of PPAG, Cape Coast and the Advocacy Manager – Mariestopes International, Ghana, Godfred Bonnah Nkansah.

Credit: Henordzi Junior (intern)