No support for teen mothers
Teen girls who become pregnant, while in high school, are basically left up to their own devices after giving birth.
If the girls who get pregnant are from well-to-do homes, they are sent overseas or are re-integrated into the school system after the child is born — if there are effective support mechanisms in place.
Other girls who are not as fortunate will more than likely fall by the wayside, struggling to cope with the pressures of raising a newborn with little or no financial resources, a lack of parental support and fathers who themselves are ill-prepared for the role of parenting, stakeholders say.
Apart from the interventions of non-governmental organisations and internal structures in church and community-based bodies to help young girls cope with life after their babies are born, there are no set programmes or policies governing pregnant schoolgirls.
Executive director of the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT) Dona Da Costa Martinez and child rights advocate, Hazel Thompson-Ahye both agree that sex was still taboo in this country. Da Costa Martinez told Sunday Newsday: “In a society where we have double standards, it is ‘Do what I say, not as I do,’ and when we want to raise the issue of sex and sexuality, automatically we are labelled as promiscuous, liberal people without taking into consideration that we are all human beings and as part of our nature, practice sexual activities which is a natural and beautiful way to preserve life on earth.”
Da Costa Martinez said sexuality education wasrequired not only to inform young people about unplanned pregnancy, safe sex and protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, but also to break the taboo around the issue — to make people comfortable about their body, identity and sexuality.
“The lack of openness and willingness to discuss adolescent sexuality has myriad repercussions that adversely affect young people,” she said.
“When we open the door to the most fundamental of discussions with our youth on sex and sexuality, we, in turn, fail to equip them with tools to navigate not only their physical health, but their social and emotional well-being.”