I was in Camarines Sur during the last week of September as part of my work in United Nations. We had our second #Babaenihan community level talk in Pili, Camarines Sur. We had a dialogue with pregnant teens and teenage mothers. Babaenihan is a campaign to raise awareness about the urgency of addressing teenage pregnancies through investments in education, health and economic opportunities. The campaign is a partnership between UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund and the Office of the Vice President of the Philippines.
I was deeply troubled when Pili’s Population Officer told me that in another municipality in Camarines Sur, a girl got pregnant at age 10 and she gave birth a few weeks ago at age 11. The Population Officer added that girls these days are having their first period (menarche) very early. More than 1 in 10 girls experienced menstruation before age 12, according to the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study.
But teenage pregnancy is definitely more than just because girls are having their first menstruation at a much earlier age than before. There are many factors that cause and/or contribute to teenage pregnancy like lack of access to age- and developmentally-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education; failure of caring adults to properly guide their children when it comes to making sexuality-related decisions; early/child marriage; and sexual abuse.
I wonder what is the story of the girl and her teenage and unplanned pregnancy. Who impregnated her? Her ‘boyfriend’? If a boyfriend, how old is he? Is he the same age or much older than she is? Was she sexually abused? How did she know that she was pregnant in the first place? How did she react about the changes that were happening to her body especially when the baby started growing in her womb?
I consider it a miracle that she did not die as girls who become pregnant under the age of 15 is at higher risk for placental tears; obstructed labor; obstetric fistula, and even death.
I wonder what will happen to her now. Will she be able to continue her schooling? Will she be able to finish senior high school? Will she able to get a college degree? Will she be able to realize her dream of being a teacher, a doctor, an engineer, or perhaps a chef in the future? I hope that she will be able to get all the support that she could get. Otherwise, I fear that she will not be able to realize her full potential and her child may grow up with very limited opportunities as well.
I would love to hear from you. Have you encountered similar stories about very young girls getting pregnant? How do you think you, in your own personal capacity and within your area of influence, can contribute to raising awareness about this issue of teenage pregnancy?
Preggy at 10. Mommy at 11.