Why Madam Bernadette Banongwie’s statement is discriminatory
Three months ago a news article from Ghana left me so gob smacked I just had to commentate on it.
In November 2013 Madam Bernadette Banongwie, a female (YES! – it needed to be highlighted) Deputy Director of Education made the following statement; that girls who get pregnant through ‘consensual sex’ (erm…, ok), should be severely punished
“The government is investing so much in the education of the girl-child, so any girl who decides to waste such resources through loose morals (:O!!!), should be made to pay back,” she explained. This statement was made at the inauguration of Girl Clubs Executives at Nadowli in the Nadowli- Kaleo District of the Upper West Region- incredibly empowering … not! But isn’t her job as an advocate for education to fight for equal educational opportunities for ALL – boys and girls- without discriminating!?
I know that having a child out of wedlock alone is rarely tolerated within the Ghanaian community how much more a ‘teenage pregnancy’ (- eish there’ll be FIRE on the mountain!!!)?! HOWEVER on a more serious note it’s a reality that we have to start ‘dealing’ with appropriately as girls as young as 10 are reportedly dropping out of basic school as a result of getting pregnant.
ANYWAY – how much more is the Ghanaian government investing in a “girl-child” than a “boy- child” again??? We have reached the 21st century and such differences are still being made?! Have these people not heard of ‘when you educate a girl, you educate a whole nation’ -it must be an investment worth while! The most provoking element of Madam Bernadette Banongwie’s message was that the “girl-child” would be the only one to suffer any consequences if such punishments were to be implemented! But why…why are teenage girls that become pregnant solely blamed for their condition? It almost seems as though girls can indeed-get pregnant all by themselves!
They are branded ‘bad girls’ at the mercy of society’s contempt! Without trying to encourage schoolgirls to get pregnant… teenage pregnancy is NOT a crime (!) and it should not be the burden of the girl alone or result in girls having to miss out on their right to an education! Surely a more sensitive approach would be more effective at tackling the problem and “serve as deterrent to their peers” such as adequate (complete) and effective sexual education! It is a well known fact that our culture still frowns on open discussions of sex with children, which is the only way to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate in Ghana. The importance to make these children aware of the consequences of indulging in early (unprotected) sex does not seem a priority! Whilst the issue of talking openly about sex is being avoided (for a number of reasons, which is a whole different post) the mass media and Internet are becoming more effective in exposing children to sex without any parallel effort being made to inform them on its implications and how they can be avoided!
The director of the Ghana Education Service (GES) Mr Stephen Adu has confirmed that such punishments to pregnant schoolgirls will NOT be implemented in schools as he acknowledged that the problem of teenage pregnancy in Ghana is multi-factorial and needed to be addressed carefully.
Success is not pre-determined and it’s not a destination either it’s a journey of striving towards goals – “your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start” (Nido Quebein).
Nora Mistersky (@Ms_Nora_M)