The Brong Ahafo Regional Directorate of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service recorded 383 child non-maintenance cases last year.
Statistics made available to the Daily Graphic in Sunyani by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Kwaku Amoako, the Regional Commander of the DOVVSU, indicated that the Sunyani Municipality recorded 54 teenage pregnancy cases in the same year.
The Regional Commander said most of the teenage pregnancies involved girls under 16 years, who got impregnated as a result of lack of proper parental care.
He said the directorate recorded a total of 614 cases in the year 2008 which were made up of various offences such as rape, non-maintenance, defilement, assault, exposing a child to danger, among others while 70 out of the total cases recorded for the year were sent to court with 471 cases still under investigation.
According to DSP Amoako, out of the 70 cases that were sent to court, 13 of the suspects were convicted; three for defilement, one each for incest, assault, causing harm and damage with nine for non-maintenance.
He stated that suspects involved in six cases were acquitted and discharged, 51 are awaiting trial and 15 of the cases have been closed.
Mr Amoako also commended the courts that dealt with the non-maintenance cases, especially the Sunyani Magistrate’s Court ‘B’ presided over by Mr Albert Zoogah, for dealing with them expeditiously.
He called for the establishment of juvenile courts and the family tribunals in each of the 22 administrative municipal and district capitals in the region to handle some of the child non-maintenance and teenage pregnancy cases which were on the ascendancy in the region.
He said because of the absence of these specialised courts in certain parts of the region, victims had to travel far distances to Sunyani to attend courts and that affected they and their family members financially.
DSP Amoako disclosed further that the directorate was supposed to have offices in all the municipal and districts in the region but currently the unit could boast of only two other offices in the Wenchi and Berekum municipalities apart from the regional office which is accommodated at the Regional Police Headquarters.
He said the two offices in the municipalities lacked proper office accommodation while the regional office lacked certain logistics such as means of transport to operate smoothly.
DSP Amoako, therefore, appealed to child and women’s rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to come to the aid of the office, especially with the provision of a pick-up to enhance its operations in the region.
He disclosed further that the directorate would continue with its public education and expressed his appreciation to the Ghana chapter of ActionAid, an international NGO, for supporting the unit in its activities while pledging to establish a shelter at the regional headquarters for the unit to cater for victims and family members who accompany them to file their complaints.