Day-to-Day: teenage pregnancy in the Dominican Republic

Maribel with her four children and others in the rural area. She first got pregnant at 14 years old.

Every mother I’ve met so far has said she is happy to be pregnant or to have children of her own. All of them were between 14 and 16 years old when they first got pregnant. When asked what they had planned or wanted for their own or their children’s futures, none had a concrete answer. These girls live day-to-day, without regard for the long-term.

Yaiva, 17, and her daughter Ashie, 1

Yaiva, 17, and her daughter Ashie, 1

The Dominican Republic has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Latin America, with almost 30 percent of teenage girls becoming pregnant.

Dariela, 16, 4 months pregnant, and Luz, 17, 6 months pregnant and already has a daughter, Leanny, 1

A maternity counselor I spoke with said these girls are hoping for a way out of their own family’s poverty. They find a boy who promises to feed and shelter them, so they have children as a way to stay with him and have something, or someone, of their own.

Yokaira, 16, her mother Yocasti, 34,  holding her granddaughter Yocarlin Michell Pujos Munoz, 4 months

The grandparents of these new babies usually are indifferent to the situation because they were teenagers as well when they first had children, the counselor said. A cycle of poverty perpetually leaves girls out of school and out of work.

Yabreisiaria is 8 months pregnant. She says she is fifteen, but older women in the neighborhood argue that she is lying and that she is actually 12 or 13.–Anna Reed

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4 thoughts on “Day-to-Day: teenage pregnancy in the Dominican Republic”

  1. Anna —- nice story. The cycle of poverty works the same way, wherever we are, I suppose. Children having children, who don’t have the maturity to see what’s around the corner. No long term goals, just day-to-day living. Thanks for sharing. Happy New Year. Be safe.

  2. Its really sad to see unbroken cycles of teenage pregnancy and the poorest of the poorest. No education, no role models, just plain being poor. How sad.

  3. Their situation is as bad as in Nicaragua. Very sad story. However there is light at the end of the tunnel. Their government is launching a national plan to decrease and prevent more adolescent pregnancies. The initiative, set to launch in January 2015, will require all public schools to teach sexual education. Aside from that UNICEF has a program committed to focusing its efforts on three essential stages of childhood development. From 0 to 6 years: a good start in life; from 6 to 12 years: the opportunity to complete a good quality basic education; and from 12 to 18 years: the capacity to develop individual potential in adequate and safe environments so as to contribute and participate in the family, the school, the community and society. Hopefully the tide will turn for them for the better.

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