A Human Rights-Based Approach to Teenage Pregnancy Prevention in China

A Human Rights-Based Approach to Teenage Pregnancy Prevention in China

Ching Yuen Luk (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6108-8.ch006
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This chapter examines the causes and consequences of teenage pregnancy in China and how to prevent teenage pregnancy using a human rights-based approach. It shows that teenage pregnancy is caused by social and cultural factors, including adolescents' more open attitude towards sex, the lack of formal and comprehensive sex education at schools, parents failing to be prominent socializing agents of sexuality for their children, and the problem of “left-behind” children in rural areas. Teenage pregnancy adversely affects adolescents, their babies, and their family in different ways. In order to solve the problem of teenage pregnancy, this study suggests the adoption of a human rights-based approach to teenage pregnancy prevention by recognizing adolescents' right to sexual and reproductive information and education, their right to sexual and reproductive health services, and their right to participate.
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Teenage pregnancy, which refers to pregnancy in female adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19 (UNICEF Malaysia Communications, 2008, p.1), is a serious problem that continues to deserve local and worldwide attention. It is not simply a public health issue that is concerned about adolescent girls being exposed to the risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) (Loaiza and Liang, 2013, p.4). It is also an economic issue associated with the economic wellbeing of teenage mothers, their children and the state (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017), and a human rights issue associated with adolescent girls’ rights to health, education, and non-discrimination (Loaiza and Liang, 2013; Niemasik, 2015). According to World Health Organization (WHO), about 16 million adolescent girls aged between 15 and 19 years and about 1 million girls aged below 15 give birth every year (World Health Organization, 2014). The vast majority of these girls are in low- and middle-income countries (World Health Organization, 2014). Since most of the teenage pregnancies are unintended or unplanned, pregnant teens may resort to unsafe induced abortion (Dahlbäck, Maimbolwa, Kasonka, Bergström, & Ransjö-Arvidson, 2008), become mothers with inadequate parenting skills (Woods, Obeidallah-Davis, Sherry, Ettinger, Simms, Dixon, Missal, & Cox, 2003), abuse or abandon their children (Akanji and Ojo, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Infertility: Inability to get pregnant despite having unprotected sex after one year or longer.

Unintended Pregnancy: A pregnancy that is unwanted during the time of conception.

Antenatal Care: The medical care that a pregnant woman receives from an obstetrician to ensure healthy embryonic and fetal development.

Contraceptive Methods: Birth control by the deliberate use of artificial methods such as drugs, devices, or surgery.

Premarital Sex: Sexual behaviors before marriage.

Induced Abortion: The use of medical or surgical techniques to deliberately terminate a pregnancy.

Sexual Abstinence: The practice of intentionally avoiding all sexual activities.

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