Any man who impregnates a teenage girl in any basic school at Gnani, a community in the Yendi Municipality of the Northern Region of Ghana, will be fined GHC250 while male teachers will pay GHC300. In addition to the fine, the culprit be required to pay for antenatal expenses to be determined by the victim’s parents before the culprit is arrested and handed over to the police. For teachers found guilty of impregnating school girls, they will be withdrawn from their school immediately while members of school management committees will also have their membership revoked.
These were contained in a new set of bye-laws introduced and agreed on by the traditional and school authorities in the Gnani community in consultation with parents and the various clan leaders to curb the high incidence of teenage pregnancy among girls in basic schools. A total of 15 girls in primary and junior high schools between the ages of 14 and 16 were impregnated, and dropped out of school in the 2015/2016 academic year. Parents of both the victim and the culprit are not spared by the by-laws which require them to pay GHC100 in fines.
The culprits will also be responsible for education of their victims upon their delivery. Further, the community has banned overnight ceremonies such as weddings and outdooring of babies among other entertainment and social events which has been identified as contributing to the rate of teenage pregnancies. To this end, all such programmes are to close latest by 7:00pm.
Any organiser who contravenes this provision in the by-law will have his equipment seized by the traditional authorities in addition of a fine of GHC50. Spokesperson to the Chief of Gnani, Yakubu Dokugu has said a breach of these by-laws is a desecration of the Gnani skin hence warns of dire consequences. He said the traditional council is saddened by the continuous school dropouts among girls due to teenage pregnancy.
Meanwhile, a child protection club made up of students and parents, has been formed in the schools in the Gnani community to educate the girl child about their rights and how to stand up for themselves The establishment of the club was spearheaded by Tuma-Kavi, a non-governmental organization based in Tamale in the northern Region. Programme Officer, Alhassan Beyom, indicated the by-laws have become necessary due to the rate of teenage pregnancy in the community. “It’s to make sure the child is protected to ensure the child’s right is not trampled on, teenagers are impregnated whiles in school so the programme will ensure each child reaches his or her full potentials,” he said.