China / Society

Teenage pregnancy a severe social problem in China's fishing village

( Updated: 2016-07-13 17:25


Teenage pregnancy a severe social problem in China's fishing village

A lecturer, talks to students about the human body at a summer camp focusing on sex in Shanghai.[Zhang Dong/for China Daily]

Outdated marriage traditions and a lack of proper sex education have created a large number of teenage mothers and related severe social problems at some fishing villages in south China's Hainan province, according to a report by Xinhua news agency.

Pan Hong, a 16-year-old girl in Lingao county, Hainan, is about to have her second child in a few months.

Pan's 17-year-old husband fishes with his father every day, leaving Pan and her mother-in-law, who is not yet 40, to take care of the children at home.

She said her everyday life is, "Eat, feed the children, watch TV, feed the children".In other areas of the country, her peers spend most of their time at school.

But Pan's situation is commonly seen in Lingao's coastal villages.

According to records from the maternity department of People's Hospital in Lingao, 20 women under the age of 16 gave birth from May 2015 to February 2016. Among them, six were under 15 and five were under 14.

The youngest mother was born on Oct. 10, 2001, which means she was under 14 when she gave birth to her baby in 2015.

Local villagers said teenagers getting married and having children at such a young age is already a tradition because of the risks of the fishing industry.

Fisherman choose to marry earlier to carry on the family line in case they die at sea.

And to make the matters worse, many of the teens are unable to get proper sex education at school or home.

Children in the fishing villages are often raised by their grandparents, as their parents are usually away fishing. With the support of their elders, most young people enter relationships and begin having sex in junior high school.

An increasing number of adolescents are engaging in premarital sex, in many cases without any knowledge of how to protect themselves from the negative consequences. As a result, teenage pregnancy and premarital abortion have become major public health issues.

Experts warned that teenage mothers face heightened risks during childbirth, and early maternity can also threaten familial and social stability.

It's true that the teenagers' families are to blame for some of the problems, but the government also should take their share of the burden to deal with the challenges, they said.

They should especially step up education and a publicity campaign among teenagers and their parents to curb the outmoded tradition of teenage marriage.


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