Sunday, October 2

Fatimah: Teen pregnancy on decline in Sarawak, 1,623 cases last year

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Fatimah gesturing as she stresses a point during the press conference.

KUCHING (April 11): A total of 1,623 teenage pregnancy cases were reported in Sarawak last year, marking a drop of 22.6 per cent compared to 2020, said Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah.

The Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Minister said such decrease is the highest since 2014 while the state recorded 2,099 teenage pregnancy cases in 2020.

“Sarawak saw a decrease of 22.6 per cent or 476 teenage pregnancy cases last year, compared to the figure in 2020. Since the setting up of the One Stop Teenage Pregnancy Committee (OSTPC), one of our objectives is to see a yearly reduction of 10 per cent in the number of cases.

“We have managed to record over 10 per cent reductions from 2015 to 2017 and the highest is last year’s 22.6 per cent, probably due to Covid-19.

“We are happy to see the drop and hope this trend will continue,” she told a press conference after chairing the state-level OSTPC meeting at her office at Bangunan Baitulmakmur 2 in Petra Jaya here today.

Fatimah said 6.7 per cent or 109 cases of the total 1,623 cases reported last year involved teenagers aged 10 to 15, followed by 29.7 per cent or 483 cases involving teenagers aged between 16 and 17, and 63.6 per cent or 1,031 cases – teenagers aged 18 to 19.

Up to last month, she said Sarawak had reported a total of 323 teenage pregnancy cases.

Of these, six per cent or 20 cases involved teenagers aged 10 to 15 followed by 26.8 per cent or 89 cases involving teenagers aged 16 to 17, and 67.2 per cent or 223 cases – teenagers aged 18 to 19.

In an ethnicity breakdown, she said 49 per cent of last year’s cases involved the Iban community followed by the Malay (23 per cent), the Bidayuh (seven per cent), the Chinese (seven per cent), Penan (five per cent), Melanau (five per cent) and others.

Fatimah pointed out that 63 per cent or 1,023 cases out of the total cases reported last year did not register for marriage.

She said 16 per cent or 262 cases registered their marriages with the state Islamic Department, 14 per cent or 220 cases tied the knot through the customary (adat) law and seven per cent or 118 cases registered for civil marriages.

She said 70 per cent of last year’s total cases involved dropouts, meaning, their pregnancy happened after they stopped schooling.

“Twenty per cent of the total cases last year have completed their studies, six per cent of the total cases are still schooling, three per cent – stopped schooling after pregnancy, and one per cent never go to school,” she added.

Fatimah noted that teenage pregnancy cases mostly happened outside schools, involving dropouts.

“Now that we are at the endemic stage with a lot of physical programmes being allowed to be held. We will get permission from the Ministry of Education to do intervention programmes in schools.

“We will also have inter-agency programmes for the community to create awareness and provide information on teenage pregnancy. All agencies involved will be given a slot to brief the community of teenage pregnancy issues,” she said.

She added that the agencies included the Social Development Council, Ministry of Health, Sarawak Welfare Department as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS).

Fatimah said a total of 24 Sarawak Social Development Randau Programmes will be organised statewide this year.

She said they will heighten the community awareness of teenage pregnancy to not just reduce the cases but also avoid seeing baby-dumping cases.

“If there is a need, pregnant teenagers will be offered a support system at Taman Sri Puteri where they will be provided shelter and counselling as well as others,” she added.