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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs