Thirty-seven Members of Parliament (MPs) have called for all MPs, Assembly members, traditional and religious leaders to desist from interfering in the prosecution of perpetrators of the crimes, especially rapists in their localities.
The call was to eradicate the interference of persons with social status with money in the prosecution of suspected criminals to ensure their freedom.
The MPs included Madam Dzifa Gomashie of Ketu South, Mr Sanja Nanja of Atebubu-Amantin, Mrs Theresa Lardi Awuni of Okaikoi North, Mrs Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe-Ghansah of Ada and Mr Collins Adomako-Mensah of Afigya Kwabre North Constituency.
They made the call individually at an Adolescents' Learning Forum, Legislators and Delegates Conference organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at the Parliament House.
The conference was to enable the adolescents to be mentored by the MPs and to deliberate together on how to resolve challenges adolescents faced in their communities of residence.
Mr Barnabas Yisa, Country Representative of UNFPA, giving the purpose of the gathering, said the laws of Ghana did not permit child marriage, hence younger and adolescent girls were subjected to forced marriages or to cohabitate with men as partners against their will.
He advised the adolescents to make good use of what they learntfrom the conference and share with their colleagues in their communities to take responsible decisions about their lives.
“If you all return to your communities, and become knowledgeable with a change in attitude, then it means this gathering has achieved its objectives,” he added.
Dr Rashid Pelpuo, MP for the Wa Central Constituency, and Chairman for Population and Development, Parliament House of Ghana, said Parliament was fundamental to democracy and could not be avoided if the nation wanted peace and development.
He said the MPs were elated to have a life-improving interactive session with the adolescents, adding: “and we look forward to the young people preparing a future that will help government to build a better system and the Ghana we all want.”
Madam Abla Dzifa Gomashie, the MP for Ketu South, addressing the adolescents on the likes of former Chief Justice Georgina Wood, former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Marietta Brew Appiah Oppong and former Speaker of Parliament, Joyce Bamford Addo, said: “All these great women didn't have it all rosy to get there. So you have no excuse to fail.Just focus and work hard.”
She said child marriage, rape and teenage pregnancy reduced agirl's dignity, affected her health, and made her miss school.
“That sweetness in your body, it goes down with age. It comes to a point where its not the most important thing anymore. Peer pressure will always be there, so be focused in life and know what you want and permit yourselves to be guided by your parents and us and don't let our efforts be a waste of time,” she advised the adolescents.
Madam Gomashie urged UNFPA to write officially to the Speaker of Parliament to put measures in place for the 40 females in Parliament to engage adolescents periodically to give them a sense of hope and empowerment to improve their lives.
The conference saw the 37 MPs and adolescents set up three groups to discuss causes of teenage pregnancy among the adolescents, and how legislation could help to reduce it.
The Group two deliberated on menstruation, menstrual hygiene and the high cost of sanitary pads, which research suggested pushed many adolescents to succumb to the sexual demands of men to receive financial support to purchase them.
They appealed that government abolished the taxes on locally manufactured sanitary pads to boost production and enable poor households to purchase.
The third group which discussed sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), called for laws against SGBV to be punitive enough to deter others from doing same.
They also admonished government to set up a gender-based fundto support and give medical intervention to victims of SGBV, adding: “Let's not prevent victims from speaking their minds and about their plights and needs.”