Teenage Pregnancy in Jamaica

By Simpson, Trudy | Contemporary Review, February 2004 | Go to article overview

Teenage Pregnancy in Jamaica


Simpson, Trudy, Contemporary Review


TEENAGE girls account for nearly one quarter of all births in the West Indian island of Jamaica--a fact that leads to collective worry, sermons, finger-pointing and, occasionally, over-the-top demands by anxious politicians. Sharon Hay-Webster, a Member of Parliament from the ruling Peoples National Party and Ernie Smith, MP from the opposition Jamaica Labour Party--in a rare joining of forces during parliamentary debate in July 2003--proposed controversial measures to stem teen pregnancies and reduce the burden they put on the nation's purse. Concerned over the number of young women who seemingly shun contraceptives and whose education and life prospects have been permanently interrupted by the first of multiple pregnancies, Hay-Webster called for introducing compulsory sterilisation (tubal ligation) of young women with more than three children, arguing that 'the state cannot cope with the responsibility of so many unwanted childbirths ... we are taking care of people ... from the womb to the tomb'. Smith, a lawyer by training, suggested mandatory medical examinations of schoolgirls aged 16--the age of consent--and under 'to determine if their virginity is still intact'.

These calls for forced sterilisation and virginity tests--made amidst fiery exchanges over a damning report on sexual and other forms of abuse in several children's homes and places of safety--provoked a public and media outcry. 'These are really ridiculous proposals, and they take away attention from the critical issue of the children's homes', asserts Dr Carolyn Gomes, head of Jamaicans for Justice, a local human rights group, and a mother of four. Such proposals, she adds, would interfere with women's and girls' rights to privacy--including the right to decide on their family size--security of person and equality before the law. 'If women want [sterilization], they should be able to have it but the state can't force it', agrees Dr Glenda Simms, executive director of the Bureau of Women's Affairs. Presently, tubal ligation can only be done if women are told about other contraceptive options, receive counselling and have signed a consent form to do the procedure.

Fortunately, the urgings of Hay-Webster and Smith are not under serious parliamentary consideration, which is a relief to Carol, an East Kingston woman who knows the price of too early and too many pregnancies. 'I would do it [tubal ligation] but the government don't have a right to say women can't have any [more] children'. Still, the 31-year-old mother of six wishes she had known about contraception as a teenager and had planned her family. 'I would have stopped at three [children]. I would have my first at 20 [instead of 17]', she says. Carol and her unemployed husband struggle to provide adequate food, lunch money and books for three school age children, good health care for a sick son as well as coping with a toddler and an infant.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, contraceptive use among Jamaican teens is low. Data from Jamaica's National Family Planning Board shows 66 per cent of all births are not planned and among women under the age of twenty, 40 per cent have been pregnant at least once, and 85 per cent of these pregnancies are unplanned. Despite a strong Christian following in this Caribbean country of 2.6 million, many Jamaicans become sexually active as early as fourteen or younger. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Teenage Pregnancy in Jamaica
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.