It is an undeniable fact that behind every pregnancy there is a man. The rise in the number of teen pregnancies underscores the fact that we are somehow not doing enough to provide support to our youth more especially to our young girls.
Last year in October, I was among a group of people who attended a Parenting Network in Africa (PAN) conference on parenting and it was hosted by YONECO in Mangochi. The conference brought to light several parenting challenges and dilemmas from an African perspective. Among the salient issues was the fact that we generally have a lot of teen mothers and not much is mentioned about the fathers.
It is an enigma to note that there are a lot of unmarried teen mothers who are loaded with the responsibility of raising children while the men behind are always absent. They deny responsibility due to several factors.
Some men who impregnate these young girls are usually old as well as married and they feel that accepting responsibility will tarnish their image in the society. Furthermore, they are usually people who are also unable to support their legitimate children.
Behind some teen pregnancies there are also teen boys who are dependent on their parents. These are just young boys who even fail to fend for themselves and they are always shocked with the issue of fatherhood and its associated responsibilities.
However, these are not valid reasons to deny responsibility. There is no any convincing argument that such reprobates could put across to convince any person who is of sound mind. My aim is not to demonise any individual, even though the conduct is outright wrong- who am I to judge?
However, I am only suggesting a conversion so that all individual concerned should take up full responsibility and make things right for the mothers as well as the kids involved. If one does not want to be responsible for any pregnancy, is not abstinence a way out and why should there be such scenarios amidst a wide variety of birth control methods in our health centres?
Most young people do not recognise their sexual reproductive health life as a serious issue. They do not want to seek information and they do not pay attention when information is being disseminated. In Malawi, there are a number of radio programmes that are aimed at promoting young people’s sexual reproductive health. It is imperative for the youth to listen to such programmes and this is where they can learn one or two things.
As we talk of teen mothers, we should also realise that teenage pregnancy is a killer. Every single year, there are a lot of adolescent girls who, sadly, do not reach the point of being called mothers as they lose their lives during child birth. It is high time we treated the symptoms and now, young people’s SRH problems really need to be tackled from the roots and young people themselves need to be active participants in the process.
The factors that lead to early pregnancies and many other SRH challenges among the youth vary from district to district. It is therefore the duty of all the youth together with members of each individual society to stop scratching the surface and dig deep to the root of such adversities. The silence that has been used for quite sometime to cover the factors that promote early pregnancies is counterproductive. there is need to start talking about the possible mechanisms that should be put in place put to an end to the challenges.
SRH problems among adolescents are as a result of several factors that are deeply rooted in a number elements within our societies. As the Executive Director for UNFPA, Babatunde Osotomehin said, “adolescent pregnancy is most often not the result of a deliberate choice, but rather the absence of choices, and of circumstances beyond a girl’s control”.
An increase in the number of teenage pregnancies and its associated adversities is so alarming. This calls for some aggressiveness in the way we approach the issues pertaining to sexual reproductive health of young people. It is high time we realised that scratching the surface wont do the trick and it has proved to be a very bad idea!