ACCORDING to the World Health Organization, every year an estimated 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 years, and two million girls aged under 15 years, become pregnant in developing regions. Approximately 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 years and 2.5 million girls under age 16 years give birth in the same areas.
The global adolescent birth rate has declined from 65 births per 1,000 women in 1990 to 47 births per 1,000 women in 2015, but despite this overall progress, because the global population of adolescents continues to grow, projections indicate that the number of adolescent pregnancies will increase globally by 2030, with the greatest proportional increases in West and Central Africa and Eastern and Southern Africa.
Adolescent pregnancy is a global problem that occurs in high, middle, and low income countries. Around the world, adolescent pregnancies are more likely to occur in marginalised communities, commonly driven by poverty and lack of education and employment opportunities.
In our reality, many times adolescent girls are unable to refuse unwanted sex or resist coerced sex, which tends to be unprotected. Sexual violence is widespread and particularly affects adolescent girls.
It's time we do our part to help to ensure that history does not keep repeating itself. This starts with remembering that each Jamaican has a responsibility to protect our girls, and where applicable, report incidences of sexual abuse involving adolescent girls.