PESHAWAR: In an effort to better understand the sexual and reproductive health issues of adolescent girls and young mothers, a seminar was held in Peshawar recently. The moot was conducted by an NGO named – Rehnuma – in association with CARE International.
Addressing the conference delegates, Dr. Rehan – the author of a report on reproductive health in Pakistan (secondary data 2001-2011), said: “Many adolescents and young mothers in Pakistan are pushed into early marriage and pregnancies, resulting in high rates of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. Adolescent girls face a number of challenges in accessing essential healthcare due to restrictions on mobility, low availability of services, lack of financial resources and limited information and awareness. The situation is worse for ethnic and religious minorities and those living in remote and feudal areas. The reproductive and sexual health needs of young women between the age of 15-24 remain unacknowledged and are conspicuously absent in major government policies such as the National Health Policy 2009 and the National Youth Policy 2008.
The speaker further explained that; “A research conducted over the last decade to assess the state of sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people in Pakistan indicates that activists have not been able to achieve any significant results at the policy level. This holds true for the issue of unsafe abortions, contraception and sexuality, said the author.
The Regional Director of Rehnuma – Dr Gohar Zaman also highlighted that; CARE International and its partners are conducting a research and advocacy project in which officials at various levels of the government will be engaged to increase their commitment to policy formulation and resource allocation for sexual, reproductive, maternal and neonatal health needs of marginalised adolescent girls and young mothers.
Ms. Meher Taj Roghani – the Adviser to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister stated that; “The majority of early marriages occur in remote areas of the province. She appealed to clerics, social workers, NGOs and the media to create awareness among people about the dangers of early marriages. The domestic violence bill was almost ready and will be tabled in the provincial assembly soon. Another bill on the internal trafficking of girls was also being prepared.