News / Africa

16 Million Teenage Girls Get Pregnant Every Year

U.N. Population Fund says adolescent pregnancy focus of World Population Day 2013.U.N. Population Fund says adolescent pregnancy focus of World Population Day 2013.
x
U.N. Population Fund says adolescent pregnancy focus of World Population Day 2013.
U.N. Population Fund says adolescent pregnancy focus of World Population Day 2013.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Thursday, July 11, is World Population Day and the focus this year is on adolescent pregnancy. It’s estimated that 16 million teenage girls give birth every year. Many are in African or other developing countries.


The United Nations says many teenage girls suffer from complications during child birth that lead to disability, sterility or even death. No one knows for sure how many terminated their pregnancies through unsafe abortions.

“The issue of teenage pregnancy is a major problem for us in Africa. Africa has a youthful population. About 60 percent of the population in Africa is below the age of 24, which means when we talk about pregnancy it’s going to be an issue within that age group, said Dr. Akinyele Dairo, senior program and technical advisor for women’s reproductive health at the U.N. Population Fund for the Africa Region.

He said there are several reasons for the high teen pregnancy rate in Africa.

“Number one, not enough comprehensive sexuality education in schools – either because the teachers are not prepared or because it’s not part of the curriculum. The second is that the parents are not well equipped and prepared to be able to train the young people on the issue of sexuality education. The third one is that those who are trained do not even have access to the services that will protect them from teenage pregnancy. And even where services are available in the health facilities the healthcare providers are not friendly enough to encourage to encourage the young people to come to the service delivery points,” he said.

Another reason for teenage pregnancy is early marriage.

“In many of the countries in Africa, by age 18 about 20 to 40 percent of the females are already married. And these are countries like Mauritania, Mali, like Niger, Chad – even in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Where the issue of literacy and education is low they tend to get married early,” he said.

Many girls are even taken out of school early by their parents and forced to marry young.

When young girls become pregnant their bodies may not be ready for the many changes that follow. And during childbirth they are more vulnerable to infection or obstetric fistula, which is a hole or tear between the rectum and vagina. It can leave them incontinent and shunned by their community because of the odor.

Dr. Dairo said that there’s an unknown number of teenage girls who want to end their pregnancies. But their options are limited.

“In Africa, there are only two countries where abortion is legal. That is Tunisia and South Africa. These are two countries where a young person can go into a health facility to say that I don’t want this pregnancy. I just want it terminated,” he said.

Some African countries allow abortions when the mother’s life is at risk or in cases of rape or incest.

The U.N. Population Fund official said many girls may have – what he calls – back door abortions. These may be performed by unqualified people or take place in ill-equipped or unsanitary conditions. The result can be bleeding, which can lead to death, or serious infections that can prevent them from ever getting pregnant again.

Dairo said teens need to be much better informed about sexual health through youth-friendly health centers. He says they should be advised to delay sex until they are older or prepared to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. And, he said, they should stay in school.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said when attention and resources are “devoted to the education, health and well-being of adolescent girls…they will become an even greater force for positive change in society” for generations to come.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: sorie sankoh from: u.s.a.
July 13, 2013 5:49 PM
If "they" want to get pregnant you can't stop them.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid