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Teen alarm

Ana Madigibuli
Sunday, April 13, 2014

THIRTY four cases of teenage pregnancies have been reported in the first quarter of the year, with two cases involving girls below 15.

The situation has been described as alarming by Women and Social Welfare Minister Dr Jiko Luveni.

Dr Luveni said awareness was of great importance in addressing the increasing number of teenage pregnancies.

The minister said most of the young girls were between the ages of 16 and 18.

"We have recruited a project officer who comes with vast experience in terms of working with youths and awareness programs as conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Health," she said.

"Through awareness programs, parents are empowered with information and communication skills that will encourage them to address these issues in their homes."

She said youths also had the opportunity to talk about the challenges they faced and at the same time acquire information to make decisions regarding their reproductive health.

"It is very important that we work with parents and even the church groups to teach moral values to our children.We need the partnership of the church groups, NGOs, women and youth groups along with the community support to achieve the ultimate goal of the reproductive health unit which is to reduce unwanted pregnancies and ensure a better future for the young girls."

The ministry has highlighted that as part of its awareness program, the reproductive health also provides contraceptives and advice on family planning. The unit is scheduled to be in the Western Division from April 21 to 25.

Fiji Women's Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali said teenage pregnancies had been a big issue in the country for some time.

"These are the numbers that are being tracked so far but there are a lot of cases out there that are not reported by the young girls," she said.

"We should understand that young people are sexually active at this certain age and a lot of the cases reported are even with the girls own relatives and there are a lot of cases where this is often ignored.

"This topic is often considered taboo for parents to discuss with their children here in Fiji and the influence of the media such as pornography is a contributing factor to such an issue."

She said such issues needed to be highlighted by parents and women NGOs needed to play their part when going into the various communities, by openly talking to both men and women about being sexually active at a certain age.





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