Thai teen pregnancies-Bangkok Post

July 25, 2010

[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: Because I have a teenage daughter, this issue is crucially important to me. I recently saw a documentary film about a group of 17 US high school girls, aged 13-17, who made a pact to all get pregnant within the same school year! Even before this incident, their high school had its own daycare centre…for the students’ children! Censoring pornography, banning short skirts, restricting alcohol sales, barring teenagers from birth control, the morning-after pill and abortion have had no effect whatsoever. In fact, if anybody’s been watching, our teenage pregnancies have grown astronomically to become the highest in Asia. All these efforts fail, of course, because of a simple biological imperative—we discover it’s fun to fuck. All we can do as parents is to talk openly and honestly from early ages about sex and its consequences, be open to any and all discussion your child wants to initiate and don’t be judgemental. Honestly, we need sex education in Thai schools.]


Safeguarding teenage girls

Bangkok Post: July 15, 2010

With barely any media coverage, a small piece of legislation that is both controversial and important, especially to pregnant students, was submitted to Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanavisit for consideration on Monday. Apparently because of the unconventional nature of the bill which is bound to provoke heated debate, the meeting decided that at least one public hearing must be staged to gauge public opinion about the draft bill before it is forwarded to the cabinet for approval.

In essence, the bill proposed by the National Reproductive Health Committee seeks to allow pregnant students to take maternity leave and, after giving birth, to return to classes if they want to.

The bill also seeks to make available facilities to provide reproductive health counselling and assistance for pregnant women who are not ready to bear children or who are not ready to raise a child.

There are no official figures on how many students are saddled with unwanted or unexpected pregnancies each year and how many of them are expelled from school or forced to leave prematurely to avoid social stigma.

However, the following statistics from the Health Department should provide a rough picture of the huge problem of unwanted or unexpected pregnancies involving women under 20 years of age. According to a survey, 15% of all pregnancies within a year totalling 800,000 cases involve women under 20, while pregnancies involving teenagers under 15 represent 1.5% or 10,000 cases. The abortion statistics amount to 100,000 cases a year.

(Since abortion is a crime under the Thai criminal code unless it is carried out by certified physicians for the sake of the mother’s health or when the mother is a rape victim, it is assumed that most of the abortions undertaken are illegal).

Students with unwanted or unexpected pregnancies are generally left with two equally painful options. The first is to undergo illegal abortion so that they may continue their studies and, more importantly, avoid the unbearable embarrassment of having to face their family and peers.

The other choice is to quit school – before being expelled when administrators find out.

Minister Jurin hit the nail on the head when he said that expelling pregnant students does not help reduce pregnancy among teenagers or students; instead, this punitive measure often ruins the future of the girls.

What Mr Jurin did not say is that often pregnant students choose to undergo illegal abortions, therein putting their lives at risk in the hands of quack doctors, in order that they may continue their studies.

The notion in some quarters that such a bill could encourage more teenage students to engage in pre-marital sex and to become pregnant, is nonsensical. First, pre-marital sex is already the norm rather than the exception in this country.

Second, no girl in her right mind would want to get pregnant simply because there was a law that allowed them to take maternity leave and to return to class later on.

The plight of pregnant students has been inadequately addressed for far too long. Many girls have had their future ruined while countless others have succumbed to abortions which went terribly wrong.

It is high time Thailand had the proper legislation such a bill would provide, to safeguard not only the dignity of our teenage girls, but their very lives.


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