Imagine being pregnant and not knowing how it happened. Not knowing what you did to make a baby.
This may sound crazy…everyone knows where babies come from. But this isn’t the case in Guatemala. Angela, a Guatemalan teenager, had her first child at the age of 14 before she knew anything about it.
“I [knew] they would come from your belly, but I didn’t know how you could make them,” she says after finding herself pregnant with her teacher’s child.
This isn’t uncommon in her country. In fact, Guatemala has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy due to lack of sex education. Many new mothers don’t even know the correct terms for their own body parts.
In 2014, there were more than 5,000 pregnancies in girls under the age of 14 in the country. This number is assisted by the high rates of sexual violence against young girls. Many of the previously mentioned 5,000 pregnancies were from a close family member.
By 19, most Guatemalan women have two children. They’ve dropped out of school to care for them and struggle to make ends meet. Many times, the women are forced to marry the father of their children, despite domestic abuse in the relationship. All of these factors reinforce the cycle of poverty and violence throughout the country.
You can read more about how the Guatemalan government is working to improve conditions for women and young girls here.