Shedding light on the teen pregnancy epidemic in Latin America
In certain areas of Latin America, an 18-year-old girl is more likely to have a husband and a child than a degree from secondary school — and those chances aren’t improving. In fact, Latin America is the only region in the world where child marriage is increasing rather than decreasing. And it’s forcing more and more girls out of school.
Teen pregnancy is often a symptom of cultural norms like gender-based violence, lack of contraceptives and sex education that persist in Latin America. Once a girl becomes pregnant or marries, she will most likely not continue her education.
1. Sisters Guadalupe (left) and Gloria (right) both had to leave school to work and support their families. Gloria, 13, belongs to the Mixe Community of Maluco, a small village in the north of the “Itsmo de Tehuantepec”, in Oaxaca, Mexico. She lives with her mother and eight of her ten siblings who are between 4 and 20-years-old. Gloria became a mother at the age of 12, a consequence of the constant sexual abuse of her father who has also attacked two of her sisters, aged 8 and 16.
2 & 4. In Montevideo, the women’s hospital “Dra. Paulina Luisi”at Pereira Rossell Hospital Center has the highest number of deliveries in Uruguay — 26% are from teenage mothers. Micaela, 15, and her newborn, Franco. Ivonne, 18, with her child.
3. 17-year-old Rita delivers her first child. She has 8 brothers. Rita’s mother also became a teenage mother at 14 and accompanied her daughter when she gave birth.
5. Aleta, 15, lives in “Complexo do Alemão”, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In Brazil, the rate of pregnancy among teens is twice as high as adults. It is increasing even more drastically in the favelas.
6. Daniela became a mother at 14 — but she decided to stay in school for her son.
7. Taiana, 16, became a mother at 15 and lives in Complexo do Alemão, a large settlement of favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is the third of seven siblings, and a daughter of a teenage mother. Taiana met her boyfriend in the favela. Shortly after they began dating, she got pregnant. After three months her boyfriend was sent to prison for drug trafficking. She had to leave school to take care of her daughter. She hopes she can go back to school someday and study medicine.
8. Tamara, 17, and her son Junior, 1 year and 6-months-old at “Patriotismo de la Humanidad” school in Quito, Ecuador. She wants to study tourism.
9. Angelica, 16, with her 4-month-old daughter Sammy in Quito, Ecuador. Her boyfriend Jaime, 20, works as a consumer dispatcher. The boy spends most of his free time with her. They met because he is the cousin of her step-father. Angelica is in fifth year of Patrimonio de la Humanidad school. She does her homework at night, when the baby is asleep. During the evenings, when the milk comes out, Angelica is so tired that she puts it in a glass.