‘20k teenage girls become mums every day’

United Nations Population Fund logo.
United Nations Population Fund logo.

KATHMANDU, Nepal- A recent study has revealed that more than 20 thousand girls between the age group of 13 through 18 become mother every day.

“20,000 girls below 18 give birth in developing countries every day, said a world population 2013 report, which the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) published Wednesday.

The report said nine in 10 of these births occur within marriages or a union. Girls under 15 account for 2 million of the annual total of 7.3 million new adolescent mothers, raising fears that if the trends continue, the number of births to girls under 15 could rise to three million a year in 2030.

Also about 70,000 adolescents in developing countries die annually of pregnancy-related causes and childbirth, according to the findings of the report titled “Motherhood in childhood’- Facing the challenge of adolescent pregnancy”conducted by the United Nations.

The figure has revealed a gloomy picture of adolescent pregnancies in developing countries.

The 2011 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey shows that 17 per cent of married adolescent girls between the age of 15 and 19 are either pregnant or are mothers already.

The survey also shows that 86 per cent of married adolescents do not use any form of contraception, which shows that spacing between births is a concept they are oblivious to.

The UNFPA report said that in every region of the world, impoverished, poorly educated and rural girls are more likely to become pregnant than their wealthier, urban and educated counterparts. Girls from ethnic minorities or marginalized groups and those who have limited or no access to sexual and reproductive health are also at risk. Pregnancy has major consequences on a girl’s health, the report said. Health problems are almost certain if she becomes pregnant just after reaching puberty. Also, since they belong to households with low income, they are nutritionally depleted.

The report says girls who remain in school longer are less likely to become pregnant. Education prepares girls for future jobs and livelihoods, raises their self-esteem and their status which makes them capable of taking decisions affecting their lives. Education also reduces the likelihood of child marriages and delays childbearing, eventually leading to healthier birth outcomes.

The report applies a multi-level ecological framework, which shows that adolescent pregnancies are the consequence of a combination of factors, including poverty, communities’ and families’ acceptance of child marriage, and inadequate efforts to send girls to school.

Such pregnancies, especially among girls under 15, are not the result of a deliberate choice, but rather of absence of choices, and of circumstances beyond their control. Early pregnancies reflect powerlessness, poverty and pressure from partners, peers, families and communities. In too many instances, they are the result of sexual violence or coercion.


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