Editorial: Awareness only weapon against teenage pregnancies

A survey carried out last year by local human rights NGO, CLADHO, discovered that within a span of two years, in just 52 of the 416 sectors in the country, 818 teenage girls became pregnant before they reached the age of 18.

A survey carried out last year by local human rights NGO, CLADHO, discovered that within a span of two years, in just 52 of the 416 sectors in the country, 818 teenage girls became pregnant before they reached the age of 18.

That figure was an increase of 7.3 percent, up from 6.1 percent in 2010. The figures were enough to raise alarms within government corridors and urgent solutions were needed before the epidemic got out of hand.

The first line of defence was awareness and sexual reproduction education. Some say that the school curriculum does not give it enough attention or time. Others say that traditional inhibitions and taboos makes broaching the subject in class an uphill task and push the responsibilities to parents.

There has even been a debate on whether teenagers should have access to contraception, a topic that has raised more objections than solutions.

Opponents argue that it would promote promiscuity among the youth as they would engage in sexual acts with abandon. They instead champion abstention as the surest bet to counter unplanned pregnancies.

Whatever the position of the different schools of thought maybe, it is an issue that should have no place for emotional influences or cultural barriers. Many of the young girls are lured into the trap of unprotected for several different reasons; poverty, or the yearning for material things dangled before their eyes by older partners.

Peer pressure is also to blame as teenagers want to be accepted and blend in their environment, however dangerous, so they need to be prepared and made aware of the dangers larking out there; not just unwanted pregnancies but the prospect of contracting disease.

So, for those still holding out on what path to take, sexual education at an early age is the only sure solution.

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