Teenage pregnancy on the rise in Philippines
Teenage pregnancy is on the rise in the Philippines and women’s groups said it is time to introduce sex education in government schools.
But their proposal has met with stiff resistance from the country’s influential Catholic Church.
According to the World Bank, the Philippines is among the top ten countries where there is an increasing number of teenage mothers (3.6 million) and these statistics often translates to a higher incidence of poverty in the country.
Women’s groups are alarmed by the steady increase in teen pregnancies. Seven out of every 10 women who are pregnant are teenagers, and most of them are younger than 19.
Dr. Junice Melgar, executive director, Likhaan, said: “We need to stress that delaying the age of pregnancies are important for them, not just physically to save their lives because of the risks of early pregnancy, but also economically, because we know that young people who are able to have opportunities are the people who are able to delay sexual engagements, especially having pregnancies. These are the ones that are able to finish school and have a better job.”
Non-governmental organisations are pushing for the enactment of a Reproductive Health bill. That piece of legislation would uphold the use of artificial contraceptives and institutionalise sex education in schools.
But the influential Catholic Church’s opposition to it has put it on hold.
Dr Junice Melgar said: “Unfortunately, even sexuality education is being challenged and opposed by conservative forces in the Philippines. Whether we like it or not, whether parents approve it or not, the young people are getting all source of information from the Internet, from their peers, etc.
“And if there’s no authoritative voice that tells uniformly on a standard basis what’s the harm, what are the risks, how can young people avoid the risk of early pregnancy? Then the risks to young people will stay as is, or could even increase the incidence of teen pregnancies in the country.”