My interest in sex started at Teshie at a tender age of about 10 years when I chanced on some three boys having sex in turns with an equally young girl. I was forced by them to have a taste of the act which they described as enjoyable when I threatened to report them to their parents.
This is how Augustus Koku Gbedemah, a 24-year-old artist who is the president of the Kwesi Plange Electoral Area Adolescent Boys Community Group in Tema, narrated his experience to the Ghana News Agency at the Adolescent Corner at the Tema Metropolitan Assembly’s (TMA) Clinic. Gbedemah, who enjoyed the experience, continued to explore with girls who were far older than him when he relocated to Tema and even extended his sexual activities to his master’s daughter during his apprenticeship at Ashaiman, an experience he saw as adventurous since his master never discovered his activities.
Another adolescent disclosed amidst smiles that he had his first sex at the age of 13 but did not discharge into the girl as he was afraid. According to him, he currently has two girlfriends and that he had regular sex with one and only engaged in kissing and caressing with the other.
At the Tema Manhean Health Centre, a 19-year-old Junior High School (JHS) finalist, whom I choose to call Gina said she had her first sexual encounter at the age of 15 with somebody she described as her boyfriend who she is still in a relationship with. For them, they had a mutual understanding to engage in sex with the use of condoms. Gina said she has never regretted embarking on that journey.
Some of her friends, who said they were waiting until they complete school, disclosed that they had engaged in some form of caressing but did their best to avoid having penetrative sexual intercourse.
The story of Mary is far different from her peers above, the 14-year-old is seven months pregnant. Dressed in a blue satin dress, she wore a sad face, as she narrated her ordeal at the Adolescent Corner of the Tema General Hospital. Mary indicated that she dropped out of school at class five as her mother had no money to see her through school while her father was only interested in spending the few coins he got on the consumption of alcohol.
She was left with no other option than to stay with her aunty at Ashaiman while she sold sachet water to make a living and support her mother’s sister who had agreed to accommodate her. It was on one of her hawking rounds at the Ashiaman Kuffour station that she was called by a woman who claimed she wanted to buy some of her water. She asked her to enter a kiosk and she locked her in with a 40-year-old man who defiled her.
She became pregnant and a report to the Police leading to the arrest of the man who is still on trial.
To help girls like Mary to overcome their woes and look up into the future, Adolescent Health Providers in the four centres in the Tema Metropolis, provide counselling, coping mechanisms and sometimes financial support to put a smile on their faces.
The centres also provide opportunities to others like Gbedemah, Gina, and their friends to share their experiences and serve as peer educators to their peers. They also receive education on the need to abstain from sexual activities, use of condoms and contraceptives, personal hygiene, breast examination, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, among others. These interactions, the adolescents agreed, had informed them and changed their decision making especially in respect sexual reproductive health matters. To them, more centres must be opened in the communities as they provided them with the opportunities to discuss and talk freely about their feelings, challenges, and fears without being judged by their parents and society.
Statistics from the Tema Health Directorate show that the Metropolis has 107,945 adolescent and young people’s out of which Tema Central, accounts for 31,295 while East and West have 34,314 and 42,336 respectively.
Out of the figure, 713 teenage girls got pregnant in 2016, 85 engaged in abortions that nearly killed them, 27 contracted HIV/AIDS while 1,333 were put on family planning.
A GNA feature by Laudia Nunoo Sawer