Lockdown babies: Gatchalian warns of spike in teenage pregnancies in typhoon-hit areas
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday urged the government to ensure interventions that would guarantee the safety of young girls in evacuation centers and prevent a possible spike in teenage pregnancies in typhoon-hit areas.
“Ang epekto ng pandemya ay isa nang posibleng sanhi ng pagdami ng mga batang ina sa bansa. At dahil sa mga nagdaang bagyo, ang mga batang babae sa mga nasalantang lugar ay mas nanganganib na mabiktima ng karahasan, pang-aabuso, at maging mga batang ina,” said Gatchalian.
(The effect of the pandemic is already a possible cause of the spike in the number of young mothers in the country. And because of the recent typhoons, young girls in the affected areas are more at risk of becoming victims of violence, abuse, and even becoming young mothers.)
A study by the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) in 2017 revealed that 23.5% of the population of teenage girls in Eastern Visayas got pregnant after the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda, Gatchalian said.
The study also showed that 14.8% had another child the following year.
In the same study, young girls aged 10-19 are the most vulnerable group in relocation and evacuation centers, where they are at risk of getting molested or pregnant with the length of their stay.
Gatchalian said that this should prompt government agencies, including local government units to ensure the protection of young girls in evacuation and relocation centers struck by Typhoon Ulysses.
He added that steps on resuming education services are crucial to rehabilitate affected children and emphasized the importance of continuous implementation of child protection and reproductive health programs.
According to a report by The National Demographic and Health Survey in 2017, teenage mothers are at greater risk of experiencing poor pregnancy outcomes, and compromising the ability to pursue education.
Children born to young mothers are also at greater risk of sickness and death.
“Marami nang mga pagkakataong nakita nating ang mga kalamidad ay nagiging sanhi ng pagdami ng mga batang ina. Kailangan nating tutukan ang bantang ito upang protektahan ang ating mga kabataan at ang kanilang kinabukasan,” Gatchalian said.
(We have seen disasters cause the increase in the number of young mothers many times. We need to focus on this threat to protect the youth and their future.)
Gatchalian emphasized the need of comprehensive sexuality education in schools to raise awareness on the dangers of teenage pregnancy. — Zac Sarao, trainee
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