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12.08.2003 Regional News

Young Girls to Be Barred From Hospitality Centres

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The Cape Coast Municipal Assembly will soon enact by-laws to prohibit young girls from patronising hospitality centres.

This is indirect response to the negative effects tourism is having on adolescents, particularly girls in the Municipality, with most of them increasingly becoming vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases.

The Cape Coast Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Muniru Arafat Nuhu announced this during the inauguration of a paralegal association at Cape Coast.

The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) formed the association to help promote adolescent reproductive health in the Municipality as part of its adolescent reproductive rights project.

Membership of the association spans traditional authorities, teachers, health experts and youth leaders, tasked to sensitise their communities about laws and policies on adolescents, and on issues like rape and defilement, in liaison with related agencies like Women and Juvenile Unit of the Police Service and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice.

They are being taken through a three-day training in advocacy skills, how to draw advocacy plans on adolescent reproductive rights for their communities, and laws and policies relating to adolescent reproductive rights.

Cape Coast is among five districts selected from the Central Region to benefit from the training programme, which would cover 20 selected districts throughout the country. The others are Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem, Awutu-Effutu-Senya, Gomoa and Assin Districts.

It is projected that the population of young Ghanaians aged between 15 years and 24 years, which constituted 30 per cent of the population, would grow from 3.74 million to 5.68 million in 2020.

Projections also show that if current rates of marriage, contraceptive use, and sexual activity continued, the total number of births would increase from 620,000 in 1998 to more than 1,000,000 per year by 2020.

Ms Margaret Nsaidoo, a High Court Judge and the Vice-President of FIDA, said Ghana was among four countries chosen by the African Youth Alliance (AYA), for the project, and said FIDA would continue to promote the rights of women and children in the country.

She repeated concerns about the rising rate of rape, assault and defilement and urged the paralegals to advocate the abolition of traditional practices that are inimical to the health of adolescents, especially girls.

Nana Oye Lithur, Project Coordinator for FIDA, said, even though, there was a supportive policy framework, as well as, laws to protect adolescent reproductive rights, not much advocacy had been done to facilitate access to reproductive health services.

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