25 August 2010

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.

Wednesday August 18, 2010
Let’s stop tip-toeing around

Pregnancy for a young girl is a lonely, frightening and confusing experience and help is hard to come by. We need comprehensive solutions to this problem, not criminalise it.

I ALWAYS get a little worried when people start talking about death penalties. It often spells a poverty of ideas, which of course, comes from not really understanding what the problem is all about.

The hysteria surrounding the issue of abandoned babies seems to have made people lose their minds. Instead of asking why people, especially young people, get pregnant and then abandon their babies, all sorts of ideas come floating by.

First was to marry them off regardless of their age. Never mind that we have just triumphantly announced the lifting of our reservation to the clause on the minimum age of marriage being 18 in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, now we were officially promoting sex among children by simply making it legal.

Who cares if under-aged sex and pregnancy have long-term consequences for the unfortunate girls? Has anyone noticed that the parents who abuse their kids are almost always very young and clearly unable to cope with the responsibilities of parenthood?

Long have we called for comprehensive sex education in our schools but to no avail, despite the rise in teen pregnancies and in sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

What do we get instead? Abstinence education! But haven’t we had this all along? Again, the central message is abstain until you get married. Or, in other words, if you want to have sex, get married. Even if you’re 14.

Since most people don’t think young kids should be having sex (unless they are married) and therefore should not be given any advice on contraception, no wonder then that teen pregnancies abound.

Hormones don’t wait for marriage certificates. And since our society stigmatises out-of-wedlock pregnancies, what choice do young girls have but to get rid of their unwanted babies?

For this, we want them killed? What sort of stone age society are we? What if the girls got pregnant because they were raped, perhaps by their own fathers or brothers?

Marrying them off is no solution for any number of reasons.

Nobody seems to have noticed that, in most states, Muslim babies are not recognised as legitimate if they are born less than six months after their mother got married, even if they married the baby’s biological father.

Given that many young girls are not likely to realise that they are pregnant until they are well along, or may wait a long time before they inform anyone, the chances are that even if they are forced to get married they would be past the three-month mark. Therefore, their babies would be considered illegitimate anyway. Bit of a waste of nasi minyak, if you ask me.

If only our dear leaders would take a deep breath and go talk to the only people who matter, the young pregnant girls themselves, they might actually learn that these girls did not have sex just because they are little sex bombs nor did they purposely get pregnant.

Pregnancy for a young girl is a lonely, frightening and confusing experience, and help is hard to come by. What more when the papers are full of young unmarried mothers being whipped for having illicit sex.

To tackle this problem, we need comprehensive solutions. Let’s stop tip-toeing around the fact that our kids are woefully ignorant about sex and the reproductive system and the consequences of having unprotected sex.

So grit our teeth and immediately put in place sex education, with a gender perspective and emphasising boys learning to respect girls.

In the meantime, yes let’s have baby hatches and let’s publicise them so that pregnant girls know where to send their babies to. Better yet, let’s have homes for girls to have their babies safely, where they can keep up with schoolwork and where they can learn mothering skills should they want to keep the babies.

Otherwise, talk to them about adoption and set up safe procedures for the babies to be adopted. Then set up a system where the girls can continue school afterwards.

Finally, adults themselves must set good examples. Every day we see adults trivialising marriage as if its only purpose is to have legal sex.

What happened to responsibility, care and, gosh, love? What happened to planning for the future, for your kids’ education and all that? When we see lawmakers breaking laws just to get another wife, how does this set an example for our young?

If we want to encourage good parenting, let’s start with ourselves, shall we?