Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday said that teenage pregnancy is a problem that can’t be solved by using only one approach. She said that it needs to be tackled on multiple levels before it can be addressed efficiently and responsibly.
Her remarks are a response to a statement from Commission on Population (PopCom) Regional Director Lydo Espanol who blamed “moral decadence” as one of the reasons for the rise of teenage pregnancy. Espanol earlier remarked that there was a need to maintain “the contribution of religious belief to abstain from premarital sexual activities.”
“Malalim at may iba’t ibang aspeto at sanhi ang paglobo ng bilang ng teenage pregnancy sa bansa. I caution our public officials against reducing the problem of teenage pregnancy to a single factor or issue. While I acknowledge that society should receive help from all sectors, particularly the home and the Church, we can’t solve complex problems by resorting to crude and dangerous reductionism,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros, who is Chair of the Senate Committee on Women, enumerated some of the main causes of teenage pregnancy, such as 1) lack of information about sexual and reproductive health and rights, 2) sexual violence, 3) child, early and forced marriage and 4) lack of access to reproductive health and sexual programs.
Hontiveros pushed for several measures to address the problem.
1. Full funding and implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law to help provide comprehensive and age-appropriate sexuality education and services.
2. Immediate passage of Senate Bill 161 or the “Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Bill” which seeks to provide social protection programs for teenage mothers, as well as medical, legal and other services for teenage mothers who were victims of sexual abuse or violence, and Senate Bill 162 or the “Girls not Brides Act” of 2019 which aims to protect children by prohibiting and penalizing child marriages.
3. Stronger partnership with the private sector and media in utilizing modern communication technologies to reach out to young people.
“These are some of the measures which can be part of a multi-dimensional approach to capably respond to a multi-faceted problem. We need to provide the people the widest array of options and the government all the necessary tools to curb this serious problem,” Hontiveros concluded