Oxfam Philippines: Education needed on realities of teenage pleasure, sexuality

·2 min read
Oxfam Philippines' study on teenage pregnancy, conducted last year, found that young women who got pregnant have an
Oxfam Philippines' study on teenage pregnancy, conducted last year, found that young women who got pregnant have an "overwhelming acceptance" of their situation. (Photo: Getty Images)

Oxfam Philippines, an international organization battling global injustice of poverty, has recently released a study claiming that teenage women who have been impregnated at an early age have an “overwhelming acceptance” of their situation.

The qualitative study, “Saying Yes to Whose Pleasures? A Feminist Study on the Acceptability of Pregnancies for Young Women,” interviewed 39 women from low-income communities in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, the Cordilleras, Bicol, the Visayas, and Davao aged 15 to 24.

According to the study, these women agreed that “motherhood is a woman’s most important role in society,” with some even considering it as a “blessing or divine gift.”

“There was an overwhelming acceptance of pregnancy among young women who had experienced it,” the study found out.

“The responses ranged from having little option but to continue the pregnancy, to a sense of moral obligation or acceptance of a blessing or divine gift, to a clear desire to start their own family at what is generally perceived by society as an ‘early’ age,” it added.

But also one of the factors of this acceptance of pregnancy is the lack of access, or safe access, to abortion for women, as this practice is still generally illegal and frowned upon in a country that is predominantly Catholic.

In fact, one of the participants in the study who got pregnant at age 14 admitted that she tried abortifacients being sold on the black market, but when the attempt failed, she felt that she had no choice but to just accept it, or “Nandiyan na.”

Meanwhile, the study also found that early pregnancies become easier to accept after both parties and their respective parents and families commit to supporting them in child-rearing and family-building.

But the study also highlighted that young women “may be at risk of coercion and abuse from older or more mature partners,” especially for young women who don’t have a “clear and comprehensive vocabulary for their pleasures and their needs.”

“In taking an unexpected pregnancy to term, and in raising children, they limit their social or economic opportunities, while being expected to be good mothers who will put the well-being of their children above anything else,” the research said.

The study, part of Oxfam Pilipinas’ Sexual Health and Empowerment (SHE) Project, was also supported by the University of the Philippines Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.

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