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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora