15 million teenage girls give birth annually after being sexually assaulted – UNICEF

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By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Given global increase in cases of rape and sex assault, more than 15 million teenage girls between the ages of  15 and 19 are reported to give birth every year.

In a statement issued yesterday by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, ‘A Field office’, which was made available to Saturday Vanguard in Makurdi, many of the pregnancies result from non-consensual sex.

According to the world body, despite advances in the last 20 years to checkmate such cases, there had been too little progress in preventing adolescent pregnancies, abortions, maternal deaths, sexually-transmitted infections and HIV.

The statement noted that “there are significant gaps in availability, quality and access to comprehensive sexuality education and services for young people, especially in low-income countries.

“Relatively simple and well-known interventions, like midwifery services and gender-based violence prevention and response, can make a huge difference if scaled up and coupled with investments in innovations, especially in the area of contraceptives.”

Quoting Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF, the statement noted that “one in 40 fifteen year-old girls living in sub-Saharan Africa faces the risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth in her lifetime.”

The world body further noted that maternal mortality has declined, stressing that “in 2013, the global Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) was 210 maternal deaths per 100, 000 live births, down from 380 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births in 1990 (a 45% reduction).

”The global reduction of MMR has accelerated, with a 3.5% annual decline from 2000-2013, as compared with 1.4% between 1990 and 2000.

”However, at current trends, most countries will not achieve the MDG target of a 75% reduction in MMR from 1990 to 2015. An average decline of 5.5% or more every year since 1990 is needed to meet the target on time.”

Unicef noted that with over 40,000 cases, Nigeria ranked among the ten countries with the highest burden of MMR.

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