Nearly 500,000 teens give birth in Indonesia annually

JAKARTA – As many as 1.7 million local girls and women under the age of 24 give birth annually, with nearly a half a million of them being teenagers, a representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Indonesia has said.

“Young people account for 37 per cent of all births annually in Indonesia,” UNFPA Indonesia chief representative Jose Ferraris said during the launch of the 2013 World Population Situation Report.

Citing research by Iwu Utomo of the Australian National University, Ferraris said Indonesian teenagers who fell pregnant mostly lived in rural areas, had a low level of education and came from low-income families.

He said that UNFPA’s approach to addressing adolescent pregnancy focused more on upholding the rights of every girl and empowering her to exercise her rights.

“We also seek to eliminate conditions that contribute to adolescent pregnancy, such as societal and community conditions, norms, values and structural forces that result in gender inequality, poverty, child marriage and negative attitudes towards sexual and reproductive health and rights,” he said.

Of all the measures, according to Ferraris, education was the most effective in helping to prevent pregnancy among teenagers.

He also expressed concern about the Marriage Law, which allows 16-year-old females and 19-year-old males to marry.

“This is at odds with the development agenda of ICPD and MDGs and Indonesia’s commitment to the human rights framework of CEDAW [Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women] and the Convention of the Rights of the Child,” he said.