Teenage pregnancies remain a serious predicament despite various measures to backtrack the problem. It has been noted with great concern that teenage pregnancies are predominant in rural areas due to lack of SRH information and awareness on the risk factors.
A lot of cases concerning teen pregnancies have been recorded in the rural areas due to cultural beliefs and norms that are inherent among people of the rural communities. Worse still, discussion of sexual reproductive issues in family settings is generally considered a taboo. Parents in rural areas still consider sex education as the responsibility of teachers and initiation ceremony counsellors, and some even consider it as a sin.
Conversely, the truth of the matter is that it is everyone’s responsibility to provide necessary and accurate SRH information to adolescent boys and girls. In this way, our society will help the youth to be in a position to make informed decisions and choices and eventually reduce cases of teen pregnancies. In some instances, the youth are imparted with wrong SRH information by initiation ceremony counsellors thereby making them vulnerable and prone to a lot more SRH risk factors.
In schools, sex education is not given enough time and attention. Boys and Girls get a lot of information pertaining to their sexuality from their peers–who are also less informed. The scenario is quite different in urban areas as there are wide and diverse ways of getting information. This is because circulation of newspapers and magazines is targeted for the urban dwellers and the urban youth are more exposed to a number of media than their rural counterparts.
Furthermore, in some instances, teachers in rural areas are also culturally bound to be explicit in teaching sex education. Consequentially, children are left with more questions than answers.
A number of studies that have been conducted in several schools show that out of 200 girls who drop out of school, a total of about 101girls dropout of school due to early pregnancies. Out of this total number, 40(39.6%) of these are girls from urban schools and 61(60.4%) are from rural schools.
72 girls indicated that peer Pressure was the main cause of their early pregnancy and of the total number, 47(65.3%) are from urban schools and 25(34.7%) are from rural schools.
From this research, it shows that there is need to support adolescent boys and girls who live in rural areas with comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education. In addition to this, there is need to build the capacity of various institutions at community level so that they should intensify advocacy and raise awareness on adolescent sexual reproductive health issues. Most institutions target only the urban youth leaving out those who live in rural areas.
YONECO is one of the organizations that are spearheading advocacy and empowerment of the youth on SRH issues in both urban and rural areas of Malawi.