The cases of men impregnating young girls and denying responsibility for the pregnancy are increasing in the Northern Region, leaving the pregnant girls in a state of total agony.
In 2021, 52 cases of denial of pregnancies were reported to the Northern Regional office of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
In 2020, the total number of cases of denial of pregnancies reported to CHRAJ in the region stood at 41.
Mr Inusah Iddrisu, Senior Public Education Officer and Investigator at the Northern Regional office of CHRAJ, who announced this, attributed the situation to the high numbers of young boys and girls engaging in sex.
He was making a presentation at a forum in Tamale on the trends of abuse in the region and how CHRAJ acted on them.
The forum was organised by Norsaac, a civil society organisation (CSO), with support from the Dutch Embassy as part of a three-month project to bring critical stakeholders together to discuss how they responded to human rights issues.
State institutions engaged in promoting human rights, including the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service and the Legal Aid Commission made presentations on their mandate and activities during the forum.
Representatives of some CSOs, youth groups and public institutions in the region attended the meeting.
Mr Iddrisu said CHRAJ acted on the cases, saying, "Some of the cases were handled through mediation; parties came and accepted responsibility and the men accepting to take up the responsibility of the pregnancies until the girls delivered and thereafter maintain the children."
He added that "Others, we are still in court so that the court will provide for interim maintenance so that the men will assume temporary responsibility until the girls deliver and, thereafter, a DNA request will be made to determine the paternity of the children."
Meanwhile, 21 cases of non-maintenance of children were reported to CHRAJ in the region in 2021 as against 26 cases reported in 2020.
Mr Inusah said despite efforts by CHRAJ to resolve the cases, some families always demanded to withdraw such cases for settlement in the home.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mr Emmanuel Horlortu, Northern Regional Coordinator of DOVVSU, decried the non-reporting of rape and defilement cases in the region, saying it left the victims without justice.
Mr Horlortu said about 80 per cent of such cases were not reported, adding even the few reported cases were sometimes not fully prosecuted because families wanted such cases settled out of courts.
Mr Issah Mahmudu, Northern Regional Director of the Legal Aid Commission, said legal services were very expensive in the country, making it very difficult for many of the citizens to access justice at the courts.
Mr Mahmudu said there were plans to open more offices for the Legal Aid Commission in the Northern, North East and Savannah Regions to ensure improved access to legal services to the citizenry.
Hajia Hafsatu Sey Sumani, Head of Programmes, Policy and Campaign at Norsaac, said as part of the project, "For the past month, we engaged youth groups, and today we engaged some CSOs to look at how we understand human rights laws hence engaging CHRAJ, DOVVSU and Legal Aid Commission to shed light on their mandate and activities, and how they respond to critical human rights issues."
Hajia Sumani said the knowledge gained during the forum would help the CSOs and the youth groups to collaborate effectively with state agencies to ensure a peaceful environment for all.
She observed that the state agencies faced a lot of influences in the performance of their functions, which most of the time, led to the halting of cases, emphasising the need for continued advocacy to stop the trend.