Increasing teenage pregnancy a concern

As per recent records maintained by the government the number of teenage pregnancy is increasing in the country by the day.

It is a big concern for the country and the issue was tabled in the ongoing parliament session. The subject is time and again discussed in the every National Assembly session, but without any concrete outcome.

Foreign Mnister Dr Tandi Dorji, who is also the chairperson of the National Commission of Women and Children (NCWC), highlighted in the House that there were 330 teenage pregnancy cases recorded last year. 167 cases were between 18-19 years while 163 cases were below the age of 18 years.

As per the current law of the country the legal age of marriage is 18 years.

From the total of 330 teenage pregnancies recorded last year, only 24 reported to the Police. Agencies like NCWC and RENEW are concerned about the issue. People are hesitant to report such cases because of stigmatization and fearing to the law.

Against the increasing number of teenage pregnancies in the country, Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji, said that one of the interventions is to raise the legal age for marriage. The Foreign Minister shared this during the question hour session at the National Council.

According to the World Health Organisation, teenage pregnancy is when a girl under 19 becomes pregnant.

The rationale of increasing legal age limit to 19 is to be in line with global law and reduce the birth complications. Giving birth by this age limit can have lot of complications and risk for both the mother and the child. Bringing legal marriage at 19 or 20 would reduce the problem help to deal strictly as per the law.

However, rectifying laws alone cannot mean to curb the problem. Everybody has to give a hand. Health officials, teachers, parents and elderlies should take responsibilities to guide the children. Proper sex education and implications of early pregnancies should be given to the teen age group.

Adolescent pregnancies are a global problem occurring in high, middle-, and low-income countries, more likely to occur in marginalized communities, commonly driven by poverty and lack of education and employment opportunities.

Several factors contribute to adolescent pregnancies and births. In many societies, girls are under pressure to marry and bear children early.

In Bhutan too, we need to find out the proper cause of teen age pregnancy and work out to solve the problem. Rooting the root cause of the problem would be better than finding for solutions after the problems have struck.

We cannot be complacent in this case.