"Our children shouldn't be having children."
This was the statement issued today by Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros as she underscored the need to curb the country's growing number of teenage pregnancies which involve girls aged 10 to 14.
Hontiveros, who is the Chair of the Senate Comittee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, citing government reports, said that as of 2017, 530 teenagers gave birth daily. The Senator said that in the same year, around 2,000 of the 196,409 teenage pregnancies nationwide involved girls aged 10 to 14.
"These are not teenage pregnancies anymore. These are childhood pregnancies," Hontiveros said.
"Many of these kids have not even finished the stages of puberty, but are now confronted with the painful reality that they will become teen mothers and fathers. Many parents still consider them as their babies. Yet, our babies are having babies of their own. This is extremely alarming," Hontiveros stressed.
"Twin bills" to prevent teenage pregnancies
Hontiveros said that she is pushing for the passage of Senate Bill No. 161 or the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Bill and Senate Bill 162 or the Girls not Brides Act of 2019 to address the country's problem with teenage pregnancy.
She highlighted the health risks of teenage pregnancy, stating that it has a mortality rate 2 to 5 times higher than adults with the neonatal death rate of babies born to young mothers 3 times higher than that of babies born to mothers aged 25-29.
The Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Bill seeks to provide comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education programs for young Filipinos nationwide, as well as social protection programs for teenage mothers - including accessible maternal health services, workshops, and livelihood programs. The bill also provides medical, legal and other services for teenage mothers who were victims of sexual abuse or violence.
Meanwhile, the Girls not Brides Act aims to protect children by prohibiting and penalizing child marriages. The bill states that facilitation, solemnization or participation in child marriages is a public crime, and will be considered a violation of Section 10 of the Republic Act No. 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, with the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period and fees of up to 50,000 pesos.
"Through these measures, we hope young people, especially women, will have greater access to services and programs to educate and motivate them to pursue safe, progressive and healthy lifestyles. Let our children be children. Let us allow them to grow and fulfill their full potential," Hontiveros said.
On Monday, the Commission on Population (PopCom) reported that it was concerned with the sharp increase of teenage pregnancies in Eastern Visayas, with around 9,483 teen-aged girls from the region reported pregnant in 2015 alone. In two cases, the pregnant mother was as young as 10 years old.
Source: Senate of the Philippines