Feb 17, 2020

On Feb. 14, the Commission on Population and Development held a press conference to call for the passage of the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Bill originally filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros in 2019 in response to the rising rates of teenage pregnancy

Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development executive director Romeo Dongeto shared some sobering facts at the forum. “Sexual violence against children is also very much connected to adolescent reproductive health and teenage pregnancy in the country,” he said. This is not a surprise: The World Health Organization notes that a major cause of “unintended pregnancy is sexual violence, which is widespread with more than a third of girls in some countries reporting that their first sexual encounter was coerced.”

Dongeto also highlighted that most of these girls were impregnated by older men. “What we noted in the data from 2018 is that the partners of the teenage mothers are apparently older than them. So no’ng 2014, 2,250 ‘yong nanganak na 10 to 14 years old but only 64 of their partners ay ‘yong ka-edad nila. So 2,000 plus na ka-partner nila were older than them… Now when we look at 15 to 20 (years old), ‘yong mga 151,000 (births), only 50,000 ‘yong ka-edad nila. So over 100,000 were older.”

These are neither separate nor unrelated facts. These young girls are targeted by predatory men and trapped into abusive relationships via pregnancy. These girls have little recourse. As Save the Children Philippines reported in 2019, “early pregnancy can also trap girls in an escapable cycle of poverty, stigmatized by society for being teenage mothers or forced into early marriage.”

Let’s not forget that the country’s age of consent is only 12 years old, and that the Philippines has become a hotbed for sexual trafficking and child pornography. (Think of how one of the most horrific child rapists and pornographers Peter Scully made the Philippines his home turf.) The country consistently fails young, vulnerable girls.

To deal with this alarming issue, the government must do two things: Raise the age of consent and enforce reproductive health classes in school, which will normalize contraceptives. As we talked about before, contraception is an intersectional issue, and many girls cannot make use of it for fear of abuse. 

 

Featured photo courtesy of Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

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TAGS: adolescent pregnancy child abuse nolisoli.ph sexual violence teenage pregnancy