Unplanned pregnancies

Lack of quality education on reproductive health and sexuality as well as sexual violence prevention for young people

Young people from an early age require accurate and comprehensive information on how to protect themselves from sexual abuse by strangers and family members. They also need to know about sexual relations, how pregnancy happens and how to prevent it, as well as to recognise the early signs of pregnancy. The school curriculum has yet to integrate sexuality education as a specific and compulsory topic despite curricula having been developed since the 1980s. The Ministry of Education developed the “Reproductive and Social Health Education Guidelines” in 2004 which was approved by the Cabinet in December 2006. The Guidelines were still not available in early 2007. (New Straits Times, 1 March 2007 and 2 March 2007)

Lessons learned from other countries have shown that a fragmented curricula is the least effective way to provide sexuality education. Continuing neglect to provide young people comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education is having serious negative effects on their health and lives.

More young and unmarried people are becoming pregnant

Young people are not included in national demographic and health surveys. Due to religious and political reasons, it is not acknowledged that more youth are becoming sexually active before marriage. According to the National Population and Family Development Board, in a survey among secondary school students, although only 2.4% admitted to have had sex, 20.7% of the respondents said they knew of friends who had premarital sex, 21.2% knew of friends who had illegitimate pregnancies and 10% had friends who had undergone abortions. (The Star, 4th April 2007).

Increase in unwanted babies

There is a rising incidence of abandoned babies. A report in 2007 stated that one baby is abandoned every ten days in Kuala Lumpur. From 2001 to 2004, the Social Welfare Department recorded 315 cases of abandoned babies, while police statistics revealed about 100 cases a year. (Ang, 2007)

 

Reference:

  • Ang, E.S. (2007). “Adolescent Health.” Presented at the National Population Conference,´ 3-5 July 2007, Kuala Lumpur.