Family Resources and Reproductive Health of Girls: a Focus on Money and Tugbewcwc Puberty Rites among the Dodome Ewes
AbstractThere has been considerable concern about the reproductive health status of girls in Ghana in recent years due to the increase in premarital sexual activities amongst the youth, socio-economic implications of teenage pregnancy and illegal abortions. The major objective of this paper is to throw some light on how proper use of family resources could help resolve the problem. All families have certain resources such as money, time, energy, skills of members, and some community resources like schools and traditional society's puberty rites. However, most families do not have access to enough money to meet all the needs of all family members. Traditionally, resources are shared without due regard to needs of individual members, but rather using gender and age as yardsticks with the resultant inequalities in access; with men always getting more than their fair share and women and children not getting enough. It is important that parents make every effort to provide the needs of their children especially the girls, so that they do not accept money from men who in turn ask for sexual favours. In traditional societies in the past, specific rites were instituted to safeguard the reproductive health of the members. Examples of these rites were puberty rites. In Dodome, the puberty rite for girls is called Tugbewôwô but it has been suspended for some years now. As part of these rites, girls are supposed to remain virgins till after the rites are performed. They are taught the arts of womanhood, motherhood etc. and are prepared to take their places as women in society. Modernization has eroded most of these resources that prepared girls to become effective members of society, producing teenage single parents. The rites served as an incentive for mothers to constantly remind their daughters of society's expectations of them and thus they preserved their chastity. That is no longer the case. An exploratory study in Dodome revealed that the majority would like tugbewôwô to be reintroduced. It is recommended that (1) families be empowered financially to be able to meet needs of members (2) that a detailed study be carried out into tugbewôwô with the aim of understanding and modernizing the rites for reintroduction in Dodome and the Ho district as a whole. It is concluded that the time has come to seek African solutions to African problems and end the adoption of Western values.
(Institute of African Studies Research Review: 2003 19(1): 79-90)