Today, July 11, is World Population Day. The United Nations and women’s advocates are focusing on teenage mothers. Their vision: a world with no unwanted pregnancies.
Buena Bernal reports.
Children bearing children…
Women’s health advocate May-I Fabros says women are more vulnerable during their teens.
MAY-I FABROS, ADVOCATE, WOMENHEALTH PH: “This is a stage where they want to try out. Kaya sinasabi nila, ‘mapusok ang kabataan,’ which puts them all the more at risk especially if they do not have the information and the right decision-maiking skills.”
Government data shows more and more teenagers are getting pregnant, and more of them are dying while in labor.
KC Fernandez bore her baby at age 14.
KC FERNANDEZ, TEENAGE MOTHER: “Sana nga hindi ko ginawa yun. Sana hindi muna ako nag-asawa. Para hangang ngayon, kahit saan ako pumunta, kahit anong gawin ko sa buhay ko, kunga baga kahit yung mag-aral ako ng mag-aral, magagawa ko.” (I wish I didn’t do it, so I wouldn’t have to marry early. So I can do what I want in life, like study in school.)
Advocates say comprehensive sexual education and an openness to talk about sex in the family may reverse the trend.
Department of Health official Juan Antonio Perez says with the Reproductive Health Law, schools and health workers will hopefully be more sensitive to adolescents’ sexual curiosity.
DR JUAN ANTONIO PEREZ III, DIRECTOR IV, DEP’T OF HEALTH: “In some areas of the country, local executives or maybe even health officers may unilaterally say, ‘we will not provide RH services.’ With the law, that will not be possible.”
The law is temporarily suspended and is being argued in the Supreme Court.
KC FERNANDEZ, TEENAGE MOTHER: “Sabi ko, wala naman sa edad yan eh, basta mahal mo, parang ganon yung sinabi ko po.” (I said, age doesn’t matter as long as you love each other – that’s what I told myself.)
KC used to tell herself she was in love.
Now she looks back and says…
young girls shouldn’t grow up so fast.
Buena Bernal, Rappler, Manila.