Worldwide Youth Day: Battling the stigmatization of teenage being pregnant in Thailand

A younger mom sits on a low wood stool above burning embers from a chunk of bark positioned in a small earthenware pot. A vivid purple and white material covers her legs and retains the smoke from escaping.

That is a part of a lower-body remedy course of for moms who’ve given beginning as youngsters. She is going to quickly lie down on a mat on the ground and obtain a soothing and warming therapeutic massage as her six-year-old son attracts with crayons proper subsequent to her.

Aorn is now 21 years outdated, however seems lots youthful. She’s certainly one of an estimated 47,400  youngsters between the ages of 15 and 19 who give beginning annually in Thailand and certainly one of many who’ve confronted discrimination and stigmatization.

Aorn plays with her six-year-old son at the Khon Wai Sai centre.

Aorn performs along with her six-year-old son on the Khon Wai Sai centre.

She was simply 14 years outdated when she grew to become pregnant after she and her boyfriend failed to make use of any contraception. The boy’s dad and mom had been supportive and each households met to resolve methods to handle the being pregnant.

Though Aorn felt constructive about giving beginning, her mom felt that she can be stigmatized for being a younger mum or dad and that she was more likely to drop out of faculty.

Her mom persuaded her to take a natural drink that may abort the foetus, which finally didn’t work. Regardless of this failed try to terminate the being pregnant, her son, One, was born match and wholesome.

“I used to be so relieved when he was born wholesome, and I’ve no regrets,” Aorn  informed UN Information. “I’m so pleased to have him in my life.”

Whereas his mom receives care, energetic and inquisitive One patiently makes crayon drawings.

Aorn’s mom was proper in her prediction that her daughter would cease going to high school, as is the case amongst many younger moms from deprived backgrounds.

Ultimately, she was put in contact with a small non-governmental group (NGO) Khon Wai Sai in her hometown simply outdoors the regional capital of Chiang Mai within the north of Thailand. Supported by the UN Inhabitants Fund (UNFPA), the organisation gives providers, steerage, and small monetary grants for small start-up companies to teen moms. It was a kind of grants that helped Aorn to understand her dream of opening a espresso store.

She now gives recommendation, as a peer educator at common conferences at Khon Wai Sai, to different younger girls who may gain advantage from her expertise.

“I inform younger girls, particularly these from the countryside who don’t have entry to details about their choices for instance contraception,” she mentioned.

“Many don’t have that data. I knew about contraception, however determined to not use it, so what I wanted most from Khon Wai Sai was monetary help to start out a small enterprise,” she defined.

The lady who’s massaging Aorn is herself a teenage mom. Nan gave beginning at age 16, and now, her daughter is now virtually 4 years outdated. 

Nan fries traditional Thai snacks to generate income.

Nan fries conventional Thai snacks to generate earnings.

She too got here to Khon Wai Sai for recommendation and help and finally was promoted as a workers member.

“At my faculty, they didn’t discuss sexual exercise,” she mentioned. “Lecturers informed us that we had been too younger to learn about reproductive well being. And once I went to the well being centre to get a condom, they mentioned the identical. Individuals simply wished to gossip about me.”

Nan is now concerned in small income-generating actions. She makes compost from meals scraps and is an knowledgeable at elevating earthworms. She additionally makes conventional snacks on the Khon Wai Sai centre referred to as Dok Jok, a deep-fried bread product within the form of a flower “which is especially common with older folks”, she mentioned.

Regardless of the challenges confronted by these two girls in accessing good recommendation, Thailand has labored exhausting to make sure all Thais, together with younger folks, have the proper and entry to sexual and reproductive well being providers.

The common well being protection system, which is accessible to all residents, gives household planning providers and entry to a spread of contraception choices, together with contraceptive drugs, long-acting contraception implants, and as much as 10 free condoms every week to each younger Thai particular person.

Aemmy is the coordinator of Khon Wai Sai based in northern Thailand.

Aemmy is the coordinator of Khon Wai Sai based mostly in northern Thailand.

Laws launched in 2016 to make sure the proper to acceptable providers and to finally cut back adolescent being pregnant has additionally proved profitable. 5 years after the regulation’s implementation, the being pregnant price of 15 to 19-year-olds was halved from a file excessive in 2011 of 53.4 births per 1,000 to 24.4 births. The intention is now to transcend the unique goal to lower than 15 births per 1,000 girls. 

Whereas the progressive authorized framework and dedication to supply care makes Thailand a frontrunner within the area for sexual and reproductive well being, the letter of the regulation shouldn’t be at all times adhered to by healthcare suppliers, and plenty of teen moms are nonetheless struggling to entry the care they want, in response to Aemmy, the Khon Wai Sai coordinator.

The laws is comparatively new, so many healthcare suppliers, particularly in authorities services, “nonetheless have a damaging perspective or perspective in direction of teenage dad and mom regardless of the regulation stipulating that denying their rights is prohibited,” she mentioned.

Talking forward of Worldwide Youth Day, marked yearly on 12 August she mentioned extra work must be achieved to make sure that younger girls will not be denied providers.

“It’s the duty of the federal government to implement the regulation and likewise to ensure well being suppliers are correctly skilled.”

Discrimination and the ensuing stigmatization of pregnant teenagers stays one of many key social boundaries to them accessing care, however in response to Asa Torkelsson, the UNFPA Nation Director for Thailand, there are different elements.

Amongst them are gender inequality, poverty, sexual violence and coercion, social pressures, exclusion from academic and job alternatives, and damaging attitudes about women, she mentioned.

Working with the Authorities, UNFPA has developed new partnerships, together with with the company sector, to advertise what Ms. Torkelsson calls “a extra holistic method to help women’ rights and to empower them to keep away from adolescent being pregnant”.

That method consists of age-appropriate complete sexuality schooling for all younger folks, the constructing of “gender-equitable societies by empowering women and fascinating males and boys,”, and “measures to make sure adolescents’ entry to sexual and reproductive well being data in addition to providers that welcome them and facilitate their selections”, she defined.

Again on the Khon Wai Sai centre, One has completed his drawing and is able to eat lunch along with his mom, whereas Nan fries up a brand new batch of Dok Jok.

Each younger girls have finally accessed the providers they wanted and are dedicated to making sure that those that observe behind them can achieve this as effectively.

*some names have been modified to guard identities


This mission with Khon Wai Sai is supported by UNFPA Thailand in partnership with Reckitt by way of the multi-year ‘Empowering our Youth Mission’, 2022 – 2026. It goals at ending unmet wants for household planning and selling entry to sexual and reproductive well being providers and rights amongst susceptible and younger ethnic populations within the north of Thailand.  


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