By Aanya Wipulasena-
Poverty, alcoholism, unstable families and lack of proper sexeducation; the main reasons, say health officials
Pregnancies due to rape, incest on the riseIt’s an inconvenient truth–but the increasing number of teenagepregnancies is a troubling concern for both state authorities as well associal workers. Among the reported cases this year, girls as young as 11-years of age have become pregnant, falling victim to abuse and in manycases, incest.According to Family Health Bureau (FHB) statistics, on average, 20,000females below the age of 20 become pregnant each year. Experts in thearea say the main reasons are poverty, alcoholism, unstable familyrelationships and lack of proper sex education.
We have seen an increased number of childpregnancies in areas such as Batticaloa, Puttalam,Anuradhapura and Colombo during the past few years,with Batticaloa reporting 11.2%, Puttalam 9.6%,Anuradhapura 8.5% and Colombo 6.7%. We observedthat the main reason was the poor socio-economiccondition of the homes of the teenage mothers,”Consultant Community Physician- Adolescent Health of the Family Health Bureau, Dr. Manjula Danansuriya said.
In most cases the mothers of these girls have goneabroad for employment and this leaves the young girlsvulnerable to needless advances from those who arearound them,” she said. Dr. Danansuriya pointed to another factor—a highnumber of young mothers where there was a bigger population of Muslims.“Since these girls are encouraged to get married at an early age there aremany teenage pregnancies reported in areas such as Batticaloa andPuttalam,” she said.In Colombo, she said, teen pregnancies were prevalent among the urbanslum population where there was a high rate of school dropouts and lack of proper sex education. However the estate sector in the country reportedthe highest number of teen pregnancies with the most vulnerable age being