Adolescents complain of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment suffered by girls from adults under the guise of offering help to needy female adolescents became one of the most topical issues last Wednesday during a day’s forum on children in Tamale.

Many of the girls who took turns to ask questions wanted to know what to do when adults who provided them with their needs due to their parents’ inability to do so requested for sex in exchange.

One girl asked if it was advisable to agree to such demands due to the support or decline them and where they would get educational support should they decline such demands.

The forum, which brought together pupils from upper primary, junior high schools, religious and traditional leaders in the Tamale Metropolis, was organised by the Department of Children and funded by UNICEF. It served as a platform to find solutions to  challenges children faced.

It was on the theme: “Ending Violence Against Children: Let’s resort to non-violent means of discipline.”

The children raised other concerns, including lack of educational guidance, how to assess and choose good friends and how and where to seek help in terms of any form of abuse.

The Acting Northern Regional Manager of the Department of Children, Mr Sanday Iddrisu, said the durbar was in response to the recent reports on violence against children and how stakeholders could best help to address the menace.

“This is to seek solutions from the religious and traditional perspectives,” he said.

The Communications Manager of the Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC), Mr William Anim-Dankwa, advised pupils to seek guidance from close relatives, family friends, non-governmental organisations and state agencies responsible for children.

He cautioned the children to refuse help from adults, who demanded sex in return for assistance and rather find support from teachers or religious leaders.

“Some of you children are obsessed with fashion that you always want your parents to buy new bags, shoes and clothing for you. This is wrong and you must stop it,” he warned.

The Child Protection Officer at UNICEF in charge of the Northern Sector, Ms Ruby Annang, appealed to parents to strive and provide the basic and educational needs of their children.

She called on parents to desist from giving out their children, especially girls, to live with relatives, adding that most of those children were subjected to harsh treatment while others were engaged in child labour. — GNA

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