Teenage pregnancy an issue of concern
By Fr. Giorgio Licini PIME
CBC Social Communications
09 JUL 2013. The article by Nellie Setepano in the Post Courier on 9 July 2013 (see below) very comprehensively highlights the issue of teenage pregnancy in PNG. Though in other countries the situation is much worse, it is indeed alarming that about 5% of PNG school girls fall pregnant every year while the global percentage including out of school girls is 13%. This also implies that a similar or probably higher number of male partners occasionally or regularly do injustice to underage girls by abusing them or shrewdly obtaining a consent that the female counterpart will later regret. Taken for granted that the unborn baby has no fault in the process and that as soon as he or she is conceived has the right to be treated as any other citizen of the world, the fact remains that these are undesired pregnancies, the children are highly at risk of neglect and only a few of those teenage couples will develop into mature families. Teenage pregnancy, therefore, is to be prevented as much as possible.
The question is how. And once again family and education are called into question. It is certainly for the parents to be the first to educate children and whisper to them the beauty, the value and the greatness of love, dating and a marital relationship; stressing at the same time the fact that when something goes wrong in that area the consequences are nearly devastating. It is being said that most of the parents are not ready for that; which is a very unfortunate state of affairs with dire consequences. How to educate and encourage parents to instruct their children on sexuality?
The education system is indeed expected to support the parents in their task. I am not enough familiar with it to be able to judge its performance. But just walking through classrooms it is not uncommon to notice posters and drawings referring to the matter. I just wonder if the physiological structure of the human body (male and female) is presented in a truly human, cultural and spiritual contest. Love, copulation and reproduction are not evils to be avoided, but gifts (of divine nature for the believers) to be treasured, respected and experienced in a safe, constructive and positive manner. Certain United Nations programs and writings seem to accept for inevitable the fact that a consistent part of humanity cannot really differentiate from the animal domain when it comes to sexuality and reproduction. Although cases of compulsive and uncontrolled sexual behavior cannot be denied, and need to be treated as such, it is hard to prove and to believe that a large portion of mankind is running down that course.
It should not be left to Churches alone to stress the intrinsically positive aspect of sexuality and promote responsible and positive behavior. Otherwise, failing (as it regularly happens) to solve the problems by artificial means, such as massive distribution of contraceptives, pregnant girls will begin to be considered “seek girls”, patients, burdens to themselves and to others… They will be warmly advised to abort the only faultless victim of their controversial love story; with the male partner regularly walking away free and never being held responsible.
PC Online 09 July 2013
Govt urged to tackle teenage pregnancy
By NELLIE SETEPANO
THE National Government has been called on to seriously address teenage pregnancy in the country.
Parents also have been challenged to impart sex education to young children in order for them to make informed choices when it comes to dealing with their sexuality.
The UNFPA’s call comes in light of the World Population Day which will be observed on July 11.
In the last National Demographic Health Survey published in 2006, the rate for PNG’s teenage pregnancy (13 to 19 year olds) was at 13 percent or simply 13 out of 100 teenage populations.
The 13 percent is an alarming rate and UNFPA anticipates the rate will worsen by 2016 when the next demographic survey comes out. (The survey is conducted every 10 years).
Representative for UNFPA in PNG Dr Gilbert Hiawalyer pointed out that in a recent monitoring survey in schools in Wau and Bulolo in Morobe Province it’s been discovered that one out of 20 girl-student fell pregnant each year. Estimates show that nationally on average four or three girls in grade eight fall pregnant each year. “This is a serious crisis if not addressed,’’ Dr Hiawalyer said.
“Take a visit to the labour wards and you will be surprised to see how many teenagers are having babies. Children are giving birth to children.’’
UNFPA agrees that for far too many of these girls, pregnancy has little to do with informed choice. Often it is a consequence of discrimination, rights violations (including child marriage), inadequate education or sexual coercion. Adolescent pregnancy is a health issue: the youngest mothers face a heightened risk of maternal complications, death and disability, including obstetric fistula. Their children face higher risks as well.
It is also an issue of human rights. Adolescent pregnancy often means an abrupt end of childhood, a curtailed education and lost opportunities.
While the spotlight on World Population is on adolescent pregnancy, UNFPA stated that there are no public health facilities available to address this situation. Health facilities are not teenage friendly.
“There are no proper public programs in place to address adolescent pregnancy, while we cannot stop people from having sex, considerations have to be taken.” Most parents cannot even discuss sex with children.
On the note of sex education programs, UNFPA stated there are curriculums in place for sexual reproductive issues but it is the Government that has to take ownership and Education Department to implement these programs in schools.
“Also when parents do not do their part, we have young people doing it on a trial and error, as a result pregnancy occurs and teenage pregnancy comes with a lot of complications.”
“We need to take the bull by the horns,” Dr Hiawalyer said, adding that a structural system has to be in place with curriculums in schools highlighting sex educational issues.
Government needs to take this issue on board and empower the Youth Commission, Health and Education departments with extra resources to play their respective roles in advocating. UNFPA commended NGOs taking a lead in addressing teen pregnancy.