Sarawak minister: State records 32pc increase in teenage pregnancy cases in 2023 compared to 2022

KUCHING, Jan 16 — Sarawak recorded a total of 2,026 teenage pregnancy cases last year, a 32 per cent increase from the 1,536 cases in 2022, revealed Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.

The women, childhood and community wellbeing development minister however said despite the increase, the state still registered an overall reduction of 40.43 per cent in such cases between 2014 and 2023.

She said Kapit Division registered the highest percentage of teenage pregnancies last year at 13.03 per cent, followed by Sri Aman (9.19 per cent), Sarikei (8.48 per cent), Betong (8.16 per cent), and Serian (8.05 per cent).

In terms of ethnicity, Fatimah said about half of the teenage pregnancies last year were from the Iban community, followed by the Malay community (22.3 per cent), Bidayuh (7.7 per cent) and Chinese (7 per cent).

“Based on statistics, 60.1 per cent of teenage pregnancies reported last year involved those who were not married at the time.

“It was also found that 58.7 per cent of the cases had dropped out of school before becoming pregnant, while 3.2 per cent of them stopped schooling as a result of falling pregnant,” she told a press conference here yesterday.

Fatimah, who earlier chaired a One Stop Teenage Pregnancy Committee (OSTPC) meeting at Wisma Bapa Malaysia, said 95 per cent of teenage pregnancies last year involved those aged 16 and above.

“From experience, even if the victims had gotten married after the pregnancy, usually the marriage would not last long and a lot would end in divorce.

“This would lead to other social issues and the teenagers would also become single mothers,” she added.

According to her, a study by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak found that curiosity, promiscuity, peer pressure, exchange of pornographic videos, substance abuse, family issues, and grooming to be among the contributing factors to teenage pregnancy cases.

In an effort to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, she said her ministry is planning several initiatives including the Sexual Awareness and Advocacy Programme (KAPS).

The initiatives include a 12-series KAPS for secondary schools; three-series KAPS for primary schools; Social Development Discourse Programme (RPS); OSTPC engagement session with strategic partners; discourse to share research findings on the profile of pregnant teenagers in Sarawak; engagement session with specialist hospitals to increase awareness and publicity for the baby hatch programme; and engagement sessions with community leaders and village chiefs to address the issue of child marriage.

In addition, Fatimah said the ministry provides a location for underage teenagers to see through their pregnancy in a safe and conducive environment at Taman Seri Puteri Kuching, with a total of 31 individuals placed there since 2016.

On the baby-hatch programme, she said a facility is currently available at Borneo Medical Centre here, with another to be located at KPJ Kuching once technical matters are resolved.

“The ministry aims to provide a holistic approach via inter-agency collaborations to ensure teenage mothers are given an opportunity to start a new chapter in their life, and that necessary protection is provided to the baby born,” she said. — Borneo Post Online

 

 

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