Young, poor and pregnant: Teen mums in the Philippines While teen pregnancy rates in most countries are declining, numbers are rising in the Philippines. Her boyfriend was 19, and it was her first sexual experience.
But he said he would take responsibility and that he loved me," she says. Her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, but Angela is now a mother of four. Her youngest child is just a week old. She's one of hundreds of thousands of girls in the Philippines who gave birth when they were just teenagers.
While teen pregnancy rates in most countries are declining, the numbers are rising in the Philippines. According to reports, about Filipino teenagers become mothers every day.
That's about , teenage mothers every year. The age of consent in this deeply conservative Catholic country is just 12, one of the lowest in the world, but access to contraception is limited, and abortion is illegal. Angela's home province of Palawan has one of the country's highest rates of teen pregnancies. One in five teenage girls in Palawan is pregnant or already has a child.
They said it [contraception] damaged the uterus. So I got scared … That's why I kept getting pregnant. Angela, Filipino teen mum Like Angela, most come from very poor communities and receive little or no sex education.
She says her boyfriend's parents told her contraception had bad side effects. By the time she was 16, she had given birth to another baby. Just a few weeks after the birth, she was pregnant again. High rate of teen pregnancies 'a tremendous problem' Amina Evangelista-Swanepoel, one of the founders of Roots of Health, a Palawan women's health NGO, says the high rate of teen pregnancy has wide-ranging consequences.
Although girls can legally have sex from the age of 12, they need their parents' permission to get contraception or an HIV test if they are under Health workers say this leads to many girls having unprotected sex and leaves them vulnerable to pregnancy. But five years later, that law is yet to be implemented due to fierce opposition from the Catholic Church and other anti-abortion rights groups, who challenged it before the Supreme Court.
There is supposed to be a separation between the state and the church in the Philippines, but most of our lawmakers are deeply religious people. While I can respect their personal views, I do think it's problematic when they're imposing their own religious beliefs on a population of over million. Amina Evangelista-Swanepoel, Roots of Health More than 80 percent of Filipinos are Catholic, and the Church is one of the country's most powerful institutions, wielding enormous influence over government policy, particularly family planning issues.
We declared Puerto Princesa city a pro-life, pro-family city, which is really a harmless thing and I simply refused to allocate funds, specifically to buy contraceptives. Dennis Socrates, Palawan's vice governor and former mayor of Puerto Princesa Socrates, a member of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei, is vehemently opposed to all forms of artificial contraception and even some natural ones. Now living with her boyfriend and children in a ramshackle hut surrounded by mud, Angela often struggles to scrounge together enough food to feed her family.
That's better than being ignorant. I don't want more kids," Angela says.