Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Teen pregnancies worrying

Representative of the UN Women Multi-Country
Office of the Caribbean, Christine Arab.

THERE is clear evidence that young girls are having sexual intercourse with men much older than them.

Representative of the UN Women Multi-Country Office of the Caribbean, Christine Arab, made the observation in a recent interview with the media, as she spoke about the matter of teenage pregnancies, which she indicated is a serious concern for her office and the United Nations (UN) in general.

She added that the subject of teen pregnancies is also a bone of contention for governments, who she said may not be speaking about it to the media, but are raising it to the UN “as a real concern”.

With that in mind, Arab noted that among the issues that come to mind as it relates to teen pregnancies, is that in many countries the age of consent and the age of access to reproductive health differ; and in many respects it is a matter of intergenerational sex.

“If you look at the trends of HIV or STDs, the girls of a certain age bracket and the boys of a certain age bracket don’t have the same prevalence rate. It is indicative of the fact that girls are having sex with older men, 10, 15, 20 years older men, and that is a significant problem and needs to be discussed with young people about the pressures that are resulting in allowing for that,” she said.

Arab said that it is necessary that such discussions are not just targeted at the youth, but owned and run by them, because they know best the culture they want to shape for the future.

Arab’s comments came as she reflected on the situation in Barbados and the wider region as it relates to domestic violence, as she contended that the current level is “unacceptably high”.

Data sorely lacking

Additionally, she lamented the fact that data relative to the prevalence of domestic violence in the region is sorely lacking, and also that much of what is known about this issue are the extreme cases that are covered in the media. To that end, she maintained that it is imperative that comprehensive data is collated.

“The Caribbean has too high statistics when it comes to sexual abuse and physical abuse of women and girls. I think in any country where you have such strong participation of girls in education and they are so visible in the workforce, it is easy to assume that everything is fine, and if she is not doing well, it is her fault, it is on her, and our experience is seldom that that’s the case.

“Both young women and young men, they do need more than ‘it’s up to you go figure it out’. And if they are facing specific disadvantages or assumptions because of their sex, they need help with that too,” she urged. (JRT)

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