Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture…

Link received by email.

“There were 71 pregnancies per 1,000 U.S. girls aged 15-19. In 2006, 7 percent of all teenage girls got pregnant…”

Teen pregnancies are often quoted as an example of the degeneration of the US or the Western culture. Are teen pregnancies unheard of India?

I don’t think so. The difference is that most teen mothers in India have no choice or control over their pregnancy or their bodies. A lot of them are undernourished and are under pressure to give birth to male children.

“According to official figures, over 68% girls in the state (Rajasthan) are married by the age of 18.”  (And the Rajasthan government wants to register child marriages, making it tougher for the couple to get out of these marriages. They should be helping them make informed choices!).

A college friend’s mother once told us how she slept through her marriage ceremony, she was too young to stay awake. But she was not from Rajasthan, she was from Tamil Nadu.

My new maid says her 17 year old daughter in law has grown up to be taller than her son, they had not expected this when they married them in their mid-teens, but it doesn’t bother them, there are many such couples in their village, near Lucknow, in UP.

Another 25 year old domestic helper in Pune had three kids, 9, 7 and 5. She said was born the year Ms Gandhi died in 1984, so how old was she when her first child was born?

I have blogged about another domestic helper, married at 12, to a 20 year old unemployed man (Maharashtra). She supports three kids and an alcoholic, sick but violent husband. She asks her mother now, if she and sisters were really so much trouble that the mother had to get rid of them so cruelly.

Yet another one in Punjab was married as a kid to a much older, abusive man but she escaped, came back home and refused to go back.(I blogged about her, here)

Each of these women are unhappily married. They were pregnant in their teens. They live with verbal and physical abuse. Many of them are working more than they should, each of them is underweight (none more than 40 kgs) and most of them are earning.

Compare this to teenage pregnancies in the US. The girls are not necessarily married. They are unlikely to be forced to get married.

They can choose to have the baby or abort the baby – their health will be a huge consideration here, and a priority.

Despite the disapproval, they need not kill themselves to save their families’ honour.

They can continue to meet new men, maybe marry, maybe work, maybe live on their own, maybe live with their parents.

Their culture doesn’t like teenage pregnancies either, but it doesn’t abandon or ostracise one of the two responsible for these pregnancies.

So why do we think, are the teenage pregnancies in the west bad, and teenage pregnancies in our country fine?

Is this because these teen mothers are married? Does that really benefit the mother or the child? Perhaps the mother  has a father’s name to give to the child? (Can’t think how else it could be better for the mother or the child since they seem to have very little emotional or financial support). I would say the mother’s name is (and should be, specially in such cases) enough for the child. Mahabharat supports this. E.g.Kaunteya/ Kunti-Putra. Where ever the law doesn’t support the mothers, it should. Neena Gupta and Sushmita Sen are both single mothers and doing fine.

Secondly even if we ignore that most Indian teenage mothers are undernourished and miserable, what kind of life are these married (with parental approval) teenage mothers likely to give to their children? They have little  say in the children’s lives. I would say Juno made a much better and far more confident teenage mother.

And most importantly it’s the mother’s body and her choice. In India she has no rights over it. Just like she has no rights over anything else in her life. Or even a right to her own life.  How can a culture claim to respect women and mothers when it forces them to abandon helpless babies in garbage heaps simply because they are not married to the father!

Or else they can always take their own lives to prove their respect for a culture that doesn’t respect or value them.

Edited to add:

Link to this post was shared by ‘The Wall Street Journal’ here.

Link shared here, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/marie-staunton/mothers-day-a-30yearold-g_b_1353850.html

117 thoughts on “Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture…

  1. WOW. Very well thought out and written!
    This gives an entirely new perspective to the stigma attached to teenage pregnancies in India.
    Imagine we make it legal by marrying away ours daughters at such young ages in the first place but with no emotional or more importantly medical or social support to bring up the baby.
    Really our society and culture needs to be more supportive of women!

    Me – True… we make it legal here and use the western society as a bad example – they at least let the girl live – I feel.


  2. There is a certain misconception that life is honey and roses elsewhere.
    Me – Is India rosy for you? Where are you located?

    I suggest that before recommending teenage pregnancies,
    Me- Did I give the impression that I support child marriage registration? I don’t. I am against teenage marriages and pregnancies.

    one must understand that the governments of both the UK and US want to bring it down.
    Me – .. unfortunately Indian government or society isn’t able to do much in this direction. Society seems to approve and government turns a blind eye. Teenage is meant to GROW, and learn, not to get married or raise babies. 😦

    Secondly, a lot of these teenage mothers end up becoming welfare moms, dependent on social security.
    Me – I am aware and I agree that becomes a problem… in India they work, get beaten and somehow raise malnourished babies.

    It seems funny that while the state in the west wants to shore up the families and the track record of single parent households has not been exemplary, yet people wish to recommend the same thing to Indians.
    Me – I don’t think Rajasthan government is giving it that much thought, they are just looking for ways to keep the voters happy. Registration of child marriages though does indirectly encourage teen-pregnancies… no doubt. 😦

    About the track record of single parents. … Most widows are advised not to remarry so that they can take care of their children better! These days a lot of couples stay in different cities, and the kids grow up just fine. We need to look at the society without thinking of what we have always heard or read in the past.

    Juno is just a movie,
    Me- You mean she should have aborted the baby? I see nothing wrong with that either.
    If you feel she should have kept the baby that is fine too – what I admire about the movie is JUNO DID NOT HAVE TO DIE. Or do you mean in real life, pregnant teenagers in the west have to die?

    before recommending that, perhaps a bit more serious, politically incorrect and eyes wide open acquaintance with the facts is necessary.
    I didn’t get what you mean here… do you mean our society is blind towards problems women face? I agree.

    While most families are not perfect, being comprised of fallible humans, yet the “radical” solution of abolishing them etc, etc is certainly a cure worse than the disease.
    Me – I wouldn’t call two sleepy kids married at 4 and 5 (or 15 and 17) a ‘family’ or a ‘couple’. Similarly an abusive man who might one day kill his spouse or injure her or burn her alive deserves to be behind bars. I would not sacrifice any girl to keep up the serials and Bollywood style façade of a happy family. I am afraid single and healthy and alive is what I prefer. A family that endangers one’s life and doesn’t care and support is not worth keeping.

    However, girls must not get married and become mothers below a certain age as they neither have the physiological or psychological maturity for them.

    Me – I am glad you are able to see this point of view. Unfortunately a lot of Indians don’t 😦 Thanks.


  3. Do you speak for the Indian parent when you see no difference between a child born in marriage and one born out of wedlock?

    Me – I gave examples of Neena Gupta and Sushmita Sen, and I gave example of Kunti.
    I think we should value each child no matter if the mother was married or not. Also I feel we should respect women as humans, and grant them human rights, no matter whether they marry or stay single (and have or adopt babies). I sense you do not think that would be a good idea… but why? Do you fear the child or the mother might suffer if they are allowed to live like any other (divorced or widowed) single parent with their child?


    • Why should there be a difference between a child born in wedlock and one born out of it?
      A “wedding” is a social construct- or a religious one- and means different things at different places. And why should the way it was conceived be something the child have to worry about?


  4. Guess education should help villagers know that teenage is for growing up, not getting married.

    But how do you understand educated city folk who get their daughters married at 18 or 19? I have one such friend who got married at 19 to a boy 21. Now nine years after their marriage, child less, they want a divorce.

    Me – I think parents also feel the ‘kids’ are settled! Kids shouldn’t be settling, adults should think of ‘settling’. In many such marriages there is regret in later years… even resentment because both the partners feel they would have a lot more in life if they hadn’t married so young. 😦


  5. It all comes down to considering the girl child to be a burden more so in terms of the dowry as well. People don’t consider boy child to be a burden because they can be sold off for dowry and get a earning maid servant for life too.

    Incredible India, anyone?

    Me – And how we glorify and romanticise even what we should change. 😦


  6. As long as we give so much importance to marriage, all these problems will continue. Parents think about getting their daughters married as early as possible. Sensible parents think about it once the daughter becomes say 22 or 23 and others think about it the day a girl is born. Even today none of the parents will accept, if you say you are just happy to be single.

    And after marriage, its about the child. I had always wondered about people who complain about the husbands and in laws and are unhappy, but give birth to kid within a year of marriage. And the only reason they give is, they think everything will change once a baby is born. Baby is their only hope!!

    At an age when you are not completely mature to understand your own physical and emotional aspects, how can you give birth to a baby?

    Me – And it’s unfair to the child (the young mother) and the baby both 😦 I also feel we should stress about how babies do not work miracles, in fact the miracle(the baby) deserves a healthy environment to grow up in … 😦


    • Exactly. These problems come from the idea that “getting married” is the be-all and end-all. Once we remove that pressure, life will become more simple.

      Me – I couldn’t agree more Allytude!


  7. IHM we have an approved culture of teen age pregnancy probably the only culture in this world which thinks of it as a good thing rather than bad… these are the parts of my culture that make me sad very sad

    i had also once blogged wbt my maid who was 12 when she was married and 13 when she had her first daughter and just after delivery she was beaten every day by her mil because she couldnt take care of her daughter… god she was only 13...

    me – Please give a link to this post monika. This is so terrible, motherhood at 13! This is so terribly sad. How did her parents get her married as a child!?


  8. Who says ‘teenage’ pregnancies is not our culture?? Till the marriageable age was fixed, teenage pregnancy was rampant in India. Only thing they were ‘sanctified’ by marrying the girls off at tender ages.. Does that make it non-teenage pregnancy??!! In fact ‘teenage’ pregnancy was ‘our’ culture till recently!!
    Now let me read your post 🙂

    Me – I always say we have a lot to thank the Constitution for 🙂 If marriageable age was not fixed, girls would still be getting married as kids. No childhood, no school, as it is no play and no self reliance either 😦


  9. As a country and various societies and cultures, we hardly recognize teenage as being part of formative years of life – neither in physical/sexual nor intellectual senses. Usually pre-pubescent or below age 14-15 are recognized as growing up girls. After that they are considered women – fit to mate and re-produce. Sickening but our society is quite animalistic.

    Me – Girls at even 19 are still kids. They have grown up, but emotionally they are still immature and definitely NOT ready for marriage. I am most shocked when – let alone the rest of the world, even the parents can’t see this! The parents should know!


    • And I have a girl in my blogger who has just turned 19 a couple months ago and is jumping with joy for she’s getting married soon to someone abroad who’s like 24?

      Don’t we recognize childhood as childhood any more? Or are we moving towards a society that considers no borders between childhood, teenage and adulthood?

      Me – I have seen girls who are proud of getting married very young – it is supposed to imply that they are good-looking and hence got a good proposal very young. They probably also feel they didn’t burden their parents and brothers for too long 😦 (this is subtle)
      And she is a child that is why she is jumping with joy- marriage like going out with a new boy friend for her… 😦 Or a party sponsored by the parents!! 😦


      • That’s so true! I wish they’d learn without getting the bumps along the way. But some people nly learn after falling down. Sadly, marriage is a one way street. Mostly. 😦


  10. First of all these people are uneducated. They are still inside the cocoon of their community, follow the rules of the community. Or else, the whole biradhari will ban them.

    First step is, the education should be made compulsory by the Govt. until 10 Std. at least and it should be free of cost, 100%. Some sort of punishment should be there, like they will not have free medical aid in govt.hospitals etc. They should have just two children, we are not dictators like China to compel to have only one child (I know I am a dreamer, IHM!), we are a democratic country! Just try to compel them to get sterilised after 2 children, isn’t it right? If the girls are educated and have good job, they will have self confidence like Neena and Sushmita and once it becomes common, no one will bother. Am I right?

    Me – Sandhya we have to dream to make those dreams come true 🙂 You are right!! Absolutely 😆

    My relative got married early, went to the UK and wanted to study further, which was not approved of by the husband. Still she fought for it and got an MBA. He didn’t like her leaving their daughter with a nanny. Physical abuse also was there. Then she got a job and divorced this man and married a Britisher. She never came to India for a few years because her parents did not approve the divorce. Now, everything is OK. This happened because she was well educated and had a very good job and was in the UK! The British daamaad is a very nice soft-natured person.

    Sorry, this has become like a post, IHM! Your topic made me pour out myself.

    Me – Thanks for sharing Sandhya!! This is an inspiring story!! I am so glad and so proud of your relative. We should see and hear of more such inspirational stories so that those who aren’t sure will also find strength from their success. But I feel so terrible that her parents didn’t approve! How could they not want their child to get out of an unhappy relationship? 😦


    • Initially, they were not able to digest it. As I told you, these things are not yet common here. After her second child was born (and this child is toooo intelligent – he acted in a small role in Harry Potter too – mixed blood!) everything was forgotten. Her first husband went to the UK to do FRCS and maybe it was for good. He was a very narrow minded person from the beginning. All eeez well now! This happened 15 years back.

      Me – Delighted to know this 🙂 I am so glad she took this sensible and bold step and is happy now 🙂 I can imagine the grandparents going gaga over the baby 🙂 … and how awesome to have acted in a Harry Potter movie!!


      • Sandhya nice to know about your courageous relative 🙂 Like you said such things are never common but all it takes is a courageous person to lead the way and open up a new path for many hopeful victims.

        Wow acted in Harry Potter? 😛


  11. What’s pregnancy got to do with culture?!!! It’s a physiological process that creates a new human being, not arts and crafts or couture! It’s associated with so many morality judgments and conditions…you are so right when you say “we should respect women as humans, and grant them human rights, no matter whether they marry or stay single (and have or adopt babies)”

    I was naive about teenage and ‘unwed’ mothers before I adopted, now having been involved with the world of adoption for 4 years, I can agree with every word you say. There are thousands of women hiding their pregnancies, delivering their babies in shame, and then walking away from their child. Because of the stigma, the illtreatment, the secrecy, children arrive into this world malnourished, unwanted, abandoned, and then their lives and mental health are put at risk in institutions, where they wait, some get adopted, some don’t, some are adopted late, and the rest go abroad into another culture.

    So many mothers are forced to place their kids in adoption because they’re not married, because they’re teens with an ‘unplanned’ and ‘unwanted’ pregnancy, it’s a crying shame that their children are left with the pain and the grief caused by society’s shunning of their birth mothers.

    Me – Thanks starsinmyeyes – you expressed exactly what I feel and so much better. You made me teary eyed. How can a culture claim to respect motherhood if they force young mothers to abandon innocent babies in shame?


  12. Neena Gupta and Sushmita Sen are both single mothers and doing fine.

    This is not some thing comparable just because they are single mothers.

    it’s the mother’s body and her choice

    I thought its a serious blog. Is it a joke?

    Me – ‘respect for women’ in India is a joke… 😦 Teenage girls are not given a choice in when they get married, when they have babies, how many children they have, and more specifically they must provide male childrn – the body is theirs, but all the rights are the societies and he in-laws. Repeated abortions are used as contraceptives by some families, some other kill new born babies, …Infanticide and foeicide both imply the mother apart from the trauma of losing a baby, also continues to try many more times to deliver a male child.

    Neena Gupta is not married and has raised her biological daughter alone. She was old enough to choose what she wanted. Do you think what she did was wrong? Who did it hurt? One might say it hurt some men because all the women must marry – with our dwindling gender ratio?
    Sushmita Sen also set an example by being a single mother. So if other women who for some reason do not wish to marry (dowry for example) – they can still have a life. They can also have a baby – which a lot of women seem to choose – if they are allowed the option. Why did you think this was a joke?


    • Why did i said that its a joke? Lets see

      On birth:
      Punjab…one most wealthy state. score in top 5 for Skew sex ratio.
      Kerala….most literate state of the country….Not much encouraging though
      Delhi(NCR)….Gutters of Noida are breeding deaths of fetuses (Mainly Girl) i guess

      age group upto 10:
      rajasthan….child marriage (Even govt official attend them and bless bride & groom??)
      Goa….Toppling all other places for trafficking of girls & girl child

      and Count go on….

      OKAY now we see how you ladies take it on..??

      Lady of this country fighting for food security of her family every day(& night as well?)

      more then 60% of ladies of this coutry think that if they are not surendering them selves to their husband(against their will)(It includes well educated ladies as well). They are not good wife.

      large chunk(I dont have correct & autheticated data for this one) of woman think that if their guy is respecting their wishes HE is NOT MAN.

      IHM ..

      When I see Women themselves dont value FAMINITY. Their own right & their body.
      I realize what is level of brain wash.

      So Right of woman & right on their own body …..it unintentionally becomes Just a JOKE.

      when you give Examples of Neena Gupta or Sush…..

      these both ladies are standing in very nice positions socially.
      Financially they are not challenged.
      and many more ….

      that makes taking these type of decision li’l easier for them.

      have you seen any middle class lady doing such things?
      if yes how many?


      • I know 10 very middle class single women who have adopted 1 and 2 children, they are struggling financially and still chose to be single mothers and are very successful and happy ones at that, supported by families and by their communities too. Hope that answers your question.


        • Thats GR888888888888888888888!

          I am happy to hear this from you “Starinmeyes”
          but my point is just what is percentage of just woman in our society?

          and may be even you find single women raising their Biological child(especially “Illegal”(saying illegal is not my personal choice)) but that is also not that common still that we can say its socially accepted practice here.

          Adoption is accepted(socially) here much more easily then having premarital child.


          Me – These things will change when women decide to not to abandon a child or to have a baby but not to marry the man (for whatever reasons) – you must read an awesome book called ‘Chocolat’. (The movie doesn’t convey the same thing- the book is what I recommend).


  13. IHM, glad you try to think and make others think about each fact. That is definitely a question as to how the teenage pregs in the west are bad as compared to what India sees. The teenager abroad still has her freedom and right to do her choice. Unlike here, where they get the girl married at an early age where she herself is a kid and does not know anything about it. Call it innocence, ignorance.

    Me – And then a thirteen year old can be beaten for not taking good care of the baby, like Monika mentioned in another comment 😦


  14. IHM, my paternal grandmother was married at an age of 13, even before she reached puberty. Then after six months or so, she was sent to her husband’s home. And she delivered my Dad at a tender age of 15. While I am totally against such practices, I am thankful that my grandmother was brought up in good health and her family took care of her well, during her delivery. But, that doesn’t make it right.

    When I imagine teenage girls, who are totally mal-nourished and bearing a child, a tear or two does drop from my eyes. I just think of my daughter – girls at this age become pregnant. Will I allow such things to happen to my daughter ???? Certainly not. But there are parents who allow such early marraiges, for some financial benefits.

    Me – I feel the same Uma, just the thought is unbearable… Hugs.

    And once the girl is raped or becomes pregnant without being married, she is certainly treated like rags, by the society. Instead of giving them a helping hand to come out of the tragedy they have faced, the treatment by the society is very harsh.

    Me – We lay so much stress on virginity, we forget that this person has been through hell in rape cases. And amazingly in all such cases, the other person responsible for he pregnancy goes on with life like nothing happened.
    Even when it is not rape, it could be that the girl trusted someone would marry her, I know of this young, unwed mother who continued to visit and be with her son in an orphanage till he was two years old, hoping the father would marry her. She couldn’t acknowledge the child was hers and worked there as an ayah. She couldn’t pretend to adopt the baby (too poor and backward) – finally the man married elsewhere, and she had to sign the abandonment papers so the child could find parents somewhere.
    What kind of society/culture allows this?


  15. Ok, now I am back after reading your post. So with all the examples, ‘teenage’ pregnancy continues to be our culture in spite of laws. yet we blame the West. I wonder when we will come out of this habit of blaming the West for everything.
    Marriage seems to be the be all and end all in our lives. When that changes and people are allowed to marry when they like a lot of this might change. Right now (most)parents are desperately waiting to palm off daughters and heave a sigh of relief at a job done.
    What I like :
    “Their culture doesn’t like teenage pregnancies either, but it doesn’t abandon or ostracise one of the two responsible for these pregnancies.”
    That’s the way it should be. Love the points you have enumerated.


  16. frankly speaking, I never thought of teenage pregnancies this way…

    Me – On one hand we bless teenagers getting married and on the other complain about the teen pregnancies in the west.
    You know Munish a lot of children in orphanages could grow up with their mothers if our society did not force them to be separated. Do take a look at Starsinmyeyes’ comment. Similarly we compel many young teenagers to take their lives – we forget that teenage pregnancies are a problem because they require extra support and guidance, not because one of the two partners is a bad person. And then of course, what wrong did the child do?


  17. Those of us, who know and understand are here. The rest are the once who are facing it.

    Me – And there are those who are thinking accepting unwed mothers in the society or treating them humanely would ruin this culture!! They need to read some more of our epics!
    Kripa and Kripi, the twins, were found together and adopted, Karan was adopted, Kabir was found abandoned by his parents, and do you know about Janak ploughing the field and who did he find? Sanskrit has no derogatory word for a child born out of wedlock (English has Bastard).


  18. Two of my neighbour’s daughters got married at the age of around 16. One of them gave birth to a baby after less than a year. Her mom looked rather happy that she’s pregnant (when I last talked with her).

    They are about to get their son married soon (who shouldn’t be more than 17 now). And, mine is not a small village in north-east. It’s a small town – taluka/tehsil – with a population of 30,000 in a ‘developed’ state Gujarat.

    Creating social awareness is the best solution. Unless people keep on getting their children in teens married, and others feel ‘socially pressurized’ to do the same, the vicious cycle would continue 😦

    Me – Haresh 16 and 17 is really young!!! And this is such a serious commitment – the kids getting married don’t even realise what’s happening!! I agree social awareness that answers the arguments that are put forward by those who support the system is needed.


    • I should have qualified my earlier comment…The reason Indians feel Western societies are degenerating is because girls there have choices eg. they can choose to have sex before marriage without society blinking an eye…Good Indian girls don’t have such a choice…

      Me- Absolutely Sraboney 🙂 And we don’t say that we only talk about our concern over ‘teen pregnancies’ 🙄 And nobody realises there are some men/boys involved somewhere???


    • IHM …

      I can see you are agreeing ……..If this person says ..

      we all know that girls who have sex before marriage are immoral…

      by the way who has given him/her right to State this act as IMMORAL??

      Is not it a personal choice of the person who is getting in premarital sex and taking it as moral or immoral as per their own capabilities of mind and soul?

      Me – “we all know that girls who have sex before marriage are immoral…”
      Makk, from what I understood, this was said sarcastically. In India we associate teen pregnancies with premarital sex and pregnancies, and we overlook the fact that there was a male also involved in this. If a girl is pregnant at 13 but is married, we have no problem!!
      We are hypocrites and some of us seem to fear that if women are treated fairly maybe they would become ‘difficult to control’ – and they would walk out of unhappy or abusive marriages, and they fear if women were ‘forgiven’ (being sarcastic) premarital sex (just like men are) they would ‘go out of hand’.
      I feel we have no business to pass judgement on other people’s morality – everybody has a right to decide for themselves in all personal matters.


      • Awwwww

        I beg your pardon..couldn’t see sarcasm….Dumbo…lollzzz

        but it doesn’t mean you need to write it there every time you are being acerbic.


        Me – I am just happy that you would have not liked it if it wasn’t sarcasm 😆 Good to meet people who judge/think for themselves and do not follow the beaten track 🙂


  19. As always, a very insightful post!

    My two penny on this.. women in India, are ‘married’ when the are pregnant, so ‘teenage pregnancy’ is ‘socially acceptable’. So, as long as there is a ‘thirumangalyam’ or ‘mangal sutra’, teenage pregnancy is considered ‘OK‘. In the Western part of the world, girls are sensible enough to not bother with the hassle of wedlock, so they are ‘branded’ immoral and irresponsible. How strange is this!!

    And this is, ofcourse, yet another mark of the hypocrisy that is inherent in Indian society!

    Me- And we try to pass it all off as culture!


  20. The mindset has to change! Thinking needs to change.
    Women need to start supporting women…

    Education hasn’t seem to help very much!!!!
    I mean, I know folks who have got their daughters married off very young and now they are suffering for various reasons!
    The parents and the daughter are all well educated people…

    the statistics in the west are shocking. true.
    But, the untold stats we have here in our country are even more shocking.

    Good post IHM. really good one.

    Me – And have you seen Pixie how we love to quote the west when we are forced to notice flaws in our system?


  21. That the kid has a father’s name is so much more important than a woman’s health. Nobody wants to really understand how it all happened (the girl getting pregnant that is). We just are programmed to think that it was the woman’s fault. After all, we wear our vagina on our sleeves, right???

    Once an auto driver fell in love with me, and troubled us a bit over it. My mom’s reaction hurt more than anything else. She said that I must have seduced him in some way! I can never forget those lines. This from an educated woman, a nurse at that!!

    Butterfly this is extremely common. And this forces girl to keep tolerating misbehaviour in all forms. Most parents are afraid to check the boy because they fear it might hurt their name. We are so obsessed with ‘creating a good impression on our neighbours, and uncle’s aunts’ sister in law’s brother’s nephew’s best friends… 😦

    A girl in my college was terrified when a boy wanted to send proposal to her house to marry her – she said she kept the the telephone unplugged so they got no calls all day. She feared that if the boy or his family called, her family would have severely punished her (no more college, immediate marriage.) I couldn’t understand then – but realised later, how they would have assumed she seduced him in some way.

    A cousin of mine (I didn’t know her much) got married to boy from the engineering college she studied in and I still remember her repeating endlessly whenever someone congratulated her, that she did not know him in college, and only met him after the proposal came! Finally I asked her if she doesn’t regret not having met him in college, and she explained red faced and really horrified that that was impossible since she never ‘talked to boys’! I can only guess that her parents, who appear very nice and broad minded have somehow got some ridiculous ideas of morality.
    😦 Can’t imagine what they thought of other cousins who chose their partners outside the community!


  22. One important difference is that when a teen gets pregnant in the US, the major debate is if you are old enough to get pregnant, then you are old enough to take care of the child. Whatever be it, it is her decision to have sex (mostly) and then, her choice whether to have the child or not. It is unfair on the nature’s part that the signs of intercourse are visible only on a woman’s body but she is atleast 50% responsible for it.

    However, in India, most of the time, woman have no choice of whether they are ready to enter a sexual relation, emotionally and physically. They have no choice of whether they should abort or keep the child. Abort if it is a daughter, might I add..

    I know I repeated what you said but thats how I would summarise it!


  23. Exactly; if a girl from a middle-class and educated background gets pregnant, she has no option but to abort the kid or her parents would ostracise her or get her married. Here, nobody considers a 16-yr old girl (example) getting pregnant as a “teenage” pregnancy if she’s married.


  24. One of our domestic helpers’ daughter got married at the tender age of 15 much against her wish. She used to come to house with her mother and I remember we had even tried to convince her parents to rethink their decision but they were adamant. And it so happened that she one year into the marriage she died,dont know the cause,but what was more startling was that she was 4months pregnant. I cant even imagine what that poor girl would have gone through in that span of one year.
    And IHM, when her father called to inform us of her demise there was not an iota of grief or remorse in his voice.

    The core problem in our country is that the girls in our society hardly have a say in deciding what they want for themselves. On top of that the parents dont want to accept that they are wrong. How frustrating is that!

    Bang on post,IHM!

    Me – To die at fifteen after not having lived a happy life! I agree some parents just accept that whatever a girl gets is her destiny – they just don’t care – or they live in denial, because perhaps they feel if they didn’t do this they would never be able to handle the trauma resulting from following some outdated and ridiculous norms…
    My sis in law says those who don’t care for daughters don’t deserve to have them…. this entire nation then doesn’t deserve to have girl children 😦


    • I sincerely hope it never comes to that,IHM-a nation without girls. I wish and pray people realize how much of a blessing daughters are.

      Me – I know Deeps!! Just venting… can’t get over parents who can’t see this 😦


  25. Hah well said! Though the US government and society are trying to take steps to decrease teenage pregnancies by education and precaution(safe sex etc), they still do not treat their teenage mothers like crap like we do, I think that is a valuable lesson to learn, while taking care to educate the kids. We in India treat teenage moms like they have done soemthing wrong, rather than educate them on safer sex practices.
    And people need to stop opening their jaws down to the ground when we talk about sex education and safe sex, because u cannot avoid sexual interaction between teenagers!

    Me – “And people need to stop opening their jaws down to the ground when we talk about sex education and safe sex, because u cannot avoid sexual interaction between teenagers” Might as well prepare them and guide them so they make sensible choices. – Absolutely!!!


  26. My family is one of those great thinkers who believe that a daughter should be married off at the age of 15 when she is in 10th standard. The pathetic logic is that till 10th she is in a girls only school and should be handcuffed even before she gets a chance to meet boys in college (plus two). Damn even the guys are married off by 17 or 18. IHM my anger is at the tipping point here when I think of it. It is very common in my home town to see girls in college who are married and at times pregnant. Most of them hardly make it through plus two unless of course they are really passionate about studying. It’s a sick place. Once you are married you have certain ridiculous obligations to perform whatever your age is. You have to attend marriage ceremonies almost every Saturday and Sunday (yeah we have a huge population as we thrive like fungus 😡 ) and then comes all the feast at different relatives places to welcome the newly wed, the 14 day wake for a demised family member…etc…etc… So tell me IHM when will a girl get time to study after attending all these societal responsibilities?? and nurture a baby? sooner or later she has to give up on studies.

    Sorry for venting out here…but I have no regrets of rebelling against such a society and choosing my own partner and leading my life my way.

    You know IHM it is said that day care for kids is provided here in schools for teenage mothers. I am dead against teenage pregnancy but salute a system which accepts it as a fact of life and provides ways and facilities to cope with the problem and move on in life.

    IHM you make me cry half the time with your posts and the rest of the time makes me mull over getting pregnant again for the sake of having a daughter :mrgreen:

    Me – I totally agree Sakshi! One big fear parents have is that a girl or a boy might marry someone they like and meet on their own – i.e. “fear of love marriages”! Indian parents fear losing control – this is the kind of unselfish love we have for our children. 😦 What’s wrong with girls and boys meeting???? Do take a look at Shilpa’s comment. If we stop this repression and allow some interaction we will see boys and girls seeing each other as ‘people’ not as some weird species from Mars or Venus. 😦


  27. There is a big difference between teenage pregnancies out of wedlock(which is more the case in US) and teenage pregnancies because of child marriages(as in India). But I cant help thinking that both are tied by a common bond – a lack of awareness / education. In our country where societies still believe in marrying off the girl child at very early ages and where talking of sex or sex education is taboo(everything/anything goes behind closed doors!), we still have a long way to go IHM. While I fully support your view point on the issue at most levels, I do have a different thought as far as ‘choice’ in the USA goes.
    There is a huge fraction of population here(mostly the evangelists) who are ‘pro-life’ and not ‘pro-choice’. People still believe that ‘abortion’ is evil, against God`s will etc etc. While I dont want to undermine people`s religious beliefs, I do think it is deeply disturbing at various levels – esp when the so called ‘Able’ Obama has decided to strongly restrict laws for a willing abortion in this country. Where are the choices you talk about? Abortion clinics are plundered, doctors are killed if they provide facilities for abortions. The new healthcare bill which is making headlines, has decided to restrict insurance coverage to people who want abortions. They will have to pay exorbitant amounts through their own pockets now! So much for having a choice, huh? :(:(
    It`s so disheartening at so many levels.. :(:(

    me – Sad because ever since I read ‘Cider House Rules’ I have had no doubt that a mother should have a choice in this. Religious fanatics everywhere are equally mad 😦 and everywhere they force their rules… and mostly it’s women who are victimised.


  28. beautifully written…

    I think there’s a huge difference… mainly becoz teenage pregnancies are more of an act of choice (kids experimenting … am not going to the side of rape or forced intercourse) and the life they live after that is also what they choose (to the effect of Juno). Here, girls dont have right to their own lives… they have their lives and decisions thrust upon them… :-/

    Me – I agree Ashwathy and then we find one odd person talking about how “even the West” doesn’t like teenage pregnancies… we know the west doesn’t, it’s we who seem to have no problems with teen pregnancies, so long as the girl is married – her happiness and consent is not relevant.


  29. You made such a valid point, IHM! The hypocrisy of our society in slamming teenage pregnancies abroad while conveniently closing their eyes to what happens right in their backyard. The difference from their point of view being – the girls abroad are immoral to have pre-marital sex, while in India, everything is holier than thou, simply because they are married. You raised such a valid point when you spoke about society worrying about the health of the mother and ensuring that the mother is safe in the pregnancy – be in teenage or otherwise. It is shocking to see young children married and having babies while being children themselves. How are they expected to be mature enough to bring up children? What is worse is that it happens with the sanction of the society – while in the west, while they are trying to curb teenage pregnancies through various measures, they also provide support structures for those who need it. Here they have govt creches, parenting classes, ante-natal classes for teenage parents just to ensure the mental and physical health of such parents who are not in a position to bring up their children. In contrast, in India. most of the young mothers are working and facing all sorts of ill-treatment at home. As for un-wed teenage mothers – I guess, that is a totally diffferent scenario where girls are forced to leave babies in dustbins or worse still being forced to give up their lives 😦

    The least our govt can do is not encourage child marriage by registering them.. Only serious awareness drives and education can really make a difference.


  30. Hi IHM, very thoughtful and well conveyed message. This is my first comment on your post..however,i am a silent reader who found you while blog hopping..I truly enjoy your posts ! Do visit this little baby’s blog 🙂


  31. Interesting post.

    “Premature pregnancy and motherhood are an inevitable consequence
    of child marriage… Girls under 15 are five times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than women in their twenties.”
    While the average age at marriage in India has been rising slowly over
    the past twenty years, the practice of child marriage is still widespread and young girls suffer most as a result of it. With early and closely timed pregnancies before their bodies are sufficiently mature, adolescent mothers frequently give birth prematurely and to low birth weight babies. The health of mother and child is severely endangered and often permanently damaged. Many do not survive. Girls who marry at a very young age are also more vulnerable to domestic violence, sexual abuse and are less likely to complete primary education.
    Estimated average age at marriage for females in India has increased from 13 in 1891 to 19.3 in 1991. As per 2001 census 4 states with lowest average age of marriage for females are Rajasthan 16.6, MP 17,Bihar 17.2 and UP 17.5. States having high average age include Goa 22,Manipur,Mizoram,Nagaland around 21.5 and Kerala 20.8.
    Poverty and illiteracy are considered as reasons for early marriages. An exception is Punjab. Although Punjab is one of India’s wealthier states, the proportion of girls getting married
    before the legal age of 18 has dramatically increased in recent years, from 12 per cent in 1998–1999 to 19 per cent in 2005–2006. This could be one of the first signs of the fallout of Punjab’s rapidly declining girl to boy child sex ratio.
    adapted from WHO,UNICEF data.

    Teenage pregnancy in USA is due to ignorance in contraceptive measures. It is also due to the strong Right wing Christian groups who are against contraception and abortion. They insist on abstinence and are very powerful politically. They block funds for sex and contraception education and when the teens eventually become pregnant they block State funds for abortion. So many do not opt for very expensive abortion. In India at least that is different and State fully supports contraception and abortion.


  32. i agree with everything that you’re trying to say here but a lot has changed in our country. While a lot of women still don’t have a choice in anything that that they do, many many of them do. I’m not talking about the educated upper class. Our maid at home has a daughter who is now 19 years old. the girl passed her 12th std exams with decent marks. Her parents were ready to send her to a degree college but the girl refused. Today she stays at home happily helping her mother at home and generally relaxing until she gets married. She has “seen” more than 4 guys but has rejected all 4 of them for various reasons. She does have a choice. she says she will marry a man with a permanent job. So while i agree that when it comes to gender equality and sensitivity, we are way behind, I also think that we are making a lot of progress and we have to acknowledge and applaud that.


  33. my two cents. having observed and read a bit about indian and US cultures, the following are my observations:
    1. married or not, teenage pregnancies exist in India and that’s majorly due to lack of education (not literacy) and informed choices. the only difference in statistics? hidden abortions due to social stigma (in unmarried cases) and infantile death and pregnancy related death(in married cases)
    2. forced decisions (whether it is anti-choice in US or pre marital pregnancy in India) is almost always imposed by religion and/or societal pressures. and always… always due to lack of sexual education. women more often than not bear the major brunt, but in most western cultures the masculine gender is also forced to take responsibility (which effectively changes life courses for all youngsters.)
    (will stop here before hogging your comment space. PS: your’s is the only blog that makes me want to take the effort to sign in and comment)

    Me – Thanks Soma 🙂 I agree with what you have said. Religion is used to control women’s lives and sexuality.


  34. I think Sraboneyghose has a point. The reason child marriages/teenage marriages are encouraged in our society is because parents want to avoid any chance of pre-marital sex in case of girls (Surprise, surprise boys get a free card again. This could mean anything from eve-teasing, molesting, raping girls or hiring a prostitute). The one’s who do escape these marriages and get a chance for education are constantly reminded about the trust the family, and for some reason, especially their father, have in them and how they shouldn’t betray that trust.

    Me – I find this TRUST WARNING extremely offensive too. Brilliantly put Richa.

    Pre-marital sex is a taboo in our society. But it’s okay if the husband of a 12-year old rapes her(In most western culture, sex with a minor (age limit varies somewhere from 14-16 years) is considered statutory rape and the consent of minor is immaterial in these cases), beats her or do whatever he wants with her.

    Me – I think even in India sex with or without consent with a girl 15 or less is statutory rape. But this is rarely taken seriously.

    A woman is her husbands property and is treated so.

    A few friends of mine were actually asked by their prospective grooms (Arranged marriages) if they are still virgin! They wouldn’t accept “damaged goods”. And, obviously, woman are not expected to ask the same question to them. It’s offensive!

    A distant cousin of mine was married off at the age of 18 because her grandmother was very sick and wanted to see at least one of her married-off. My cousin resents her Grandmother for that, especially since she got better after her marriage. While talking to me she asked me (she is around 10 years younger to me), that what right did her Grandmother had to spoil her life for her sickness? But then girls are supposed to be mechanical robots with no feelings or emotions, an obedient puppet of their parents, husbands and in-laws.

    As for Western culture, teenagers here also don’t always get the right to their body. At times, abortion is prohibited by their family due to religious reason and they are stuck with raising the kid they didn’t want. Abortion is a big issue here.

    Sorry for the incoherent response. I think I was trying to chase a lot of thoughts. In essence, I agree with the ridiculousness of child marriages/ teenage marriages and I think the main reason for such absurd custom is the way our culture perceive women: a commodity/ a property of the family she belongs to and they want to sell it off to her husband and his family in its pristine condition before any “damages”. That she is their daughter, their child, a human doesn’t occur to either family.


  35. I have read about it and heard about it from my maid who was married at 14 to a man who was more then twice as old as her, she had 3 children …he wasn’t abusive apparently but he died leaving her a a young widow with 3 children! I wonder if there is any way to stop all of this! the government is clearly trying but with little or no progress but to legalize it is definitely not a step towards solving the problem!


  36. In the west, they have Abstinence Rings, Abstinence Marches and Abstinence Days.

    me – Phase Shift are these only for girls or for both the genders? In India we have a clear bias against girls – you may also like to read Richa’s and Shilpa’s comments.

    In Asia (all of Asia, not just India), they have but more rigid social norms. In the movie ’10 Things I Hate About You’, the Dad wears a padded ‘pregnancy harness’ to scare his daughters about the consequences of unplanned pregnancy. Parents have a responsibility to the society to prevent such things – to caution the girls about the heavy toll at an early age. It can turn out to be Pal bhar ka hasna ho jaaye jeevan bhar ka rona

    Me – Phase shift if the restriction is only for underage pregnancy, say till even 20, purely out of their love and concern for the girl’s health etc – Would the parents and society support the girl if she was pregnant at 23, 25 or 27 – a planned pregnancy without being married?



    • I hardly follow Indian celebrities but have this bias for Neena Gupta. Not sure if she was a teenage mom, though. One thing I don’t like about Indian society is ‘children’ staying at home after turning adults. We should learn from animals, if not from other societies. Once out of home, they are responsible for their own lives (unlike teens hormonal rush is no longer the case). But while at home, parents have a rightful say — there was a court ruling in Germany against a teen who refused to wash his father’s car. Parental authority, you see!

      Me – Neena Gupta has a biological daughter, now around 19-20, she was not a teen mom, and she never married. She has shown how it is possible to enjoy motherhood, whether or not one gets married. (with dowry this could be a blessing).

      Indian parents like the children to stay with them even after they are married, they also want them to marry someone who would be willing to live with them. This is accepted by a majority but only if the child is male. This strong preference for living with their children has created a preference for male children and has resulted in more than a million missing girl children (dead).

      I agree with you, children should stay with the parents and adults should stay on their own. Indian parents in fact make sure the children are kept in dependence. To achieve this and to ensure the girls don’t object to life-long dependence and infantilization, they are kept uneducated, married too soon, made to feel that only the parents know what’s good for them. In boys’ case emotional blackmail is also used, often resulting in the sons fearing showing any affection and bonding with their spouse (even if she is selected by the parents) – labels like Joru Ka Gulam are used to discourage the boy from respecting his wife. (Definition and more information of JKG on my sidebar). The girl is the bigger loser, they not only stay dependent, but also must prove their love and loyalty to a spouse who dare not show he cares for her. And they pay to serve this family. Why do girls and their parents accept it? Habit.


  37. Mahabharat supports this. E.g.Kaunteya/ Kunti-Putra.

    why do Indian women need support by History?

    If some thing is need of present then lets go ahead and get it today. right?

    Or SHE need to convince this MEN DOMINATED society?

    Or SHE need to convince her own women fellows??

    Me – I agree women should not need to convince anybody. I added that so thatif anybody brings ‘bhartiya sanskruti’ into it I could site this example… but you are right. I feel we should use only common sense in these matters.


  38. By the way

    I hope I am not bothering you. Am I ?

    Please lemme know if i should stop my self. [:)]

    me – No Makk, you are not bothering me at all. In fact I agree with your views on this. 🙂


  39. Everyone’s said everything that I wanted to say.. Even education does not help someone. People need common sense more than education. Young girls’ minds are programmed to accept their fate and thats not how it is in the Western Culture. In many ways, the western culture is much more civilized than us. I have a course on legal and ethical issues in my curriculum right now and I read and discuss about similar things in class. One more topic is divorce.. but lets stick to teen pregnancy right now..

    I know a girl who was forced to get married by her educated family at 17 when we’d just completed our first year of engineering. She delivered a baby BOY in the first year… She told us that her inlaws found her contraceptive pills and threw them away.. her husband refused to use condoms.. She used to come to college, and sometimes she revealed that she was made to clean the house, the utensils and wash clothes after going back home. Her parents stayed very close but were never allowed to visit her. Her husband told big stories at that time, that he wants her to study further etc. She did complete her Engg.. and I am sometimes amazed that even with her pregnancy and then with the baby, she scored more than many of us! Post Engg, she is at home and from what I’ve heard, she had a baby girl recently.. Her parents are still not allowed to visit her… she only gets to see them once in a few months..

    And what do they tell her? It was in your destiny, no one can help it. So live with it and don’t dream or have high expectations from life. Now, she’s given up on everything. She is just leading an empty life with her big family. She is perhaps the most beautiful of all my friends and the most intelligent. Had she gotten married after her Engg or something, she would have definitely found a guy who totally deserves her, not a fool..

    So, whom do we blame here? Her educated parents? Her mind has totally been programmed on how a girl’s life is useless if she leaves her husband and she is definitely not the confident person I once knew… the seeds we sow in a child are what we reap when he/she grows up.

    Sorry, I went on and on! I was just venting.. coz as soon as I saw ur post, I thought of her..

    Me – Why do parents do this to their own daughters? Do they really not understand they are ruining her life??? Imagine, an engineer!! – and here getting admission for engineering is so difficult… parents can be so selfish, and isn’t it illegal to marry a girl till she is 18- though I think that is outrageously early too.


    • exactly! even 18 is too young to be married.. but what do we tell this classic society of ours? The best part is this girl’s elder sister who is now 27 is not yet married coz every family they approach wonders why they got the younger one married first. And when this 27 yr old wanted to marry a guy of her choice, it was rejected.


  40. IHM our teen pregnancies cannot be compared to the ones in the West, unless those be in the fundamentalist compounds where minors are married off( read up on the FLDS).
    Our social structure is so patriarchal in nature, even our adult women do not have a choice- or know they have one.
    One of my cousins was married off at 20- and became pregnant by the age of 21-22. Not a teenager, but what did she really know. She had never lived out of her house, never earned anything on her own and not even completed her masters. A still born and a 5 year old later, I still do not find her grown up enough. And this is not someone from a poorer socioeconomic class but my aunt’s daughter – a person I grew up with. As a society we do not respect women or their autonomy. We do not care as long as appearances are maintained. That is the inherent hypocricy.


    • “Our social structure is so patriarchal in nature, even our adult women do not have a choice- or know they have one.” i second this too. if adult women use their choice they are also called rebellious in some sections of indian society where common sense is not common


  41. Only “WOMEN” can change this situation. If we hold up our dignity and respect other women irrespective of married/unmarried has children, no children then all these problems will resolve.

    I saw many examples in the comment section where they said girls getting married as early as 14/15. Why didn’t mother/grandmothers etc. opposed it?

    I’ve an example from in-laws side, my MIL’s niece a 21 year old girl eloped with a guy who had no education, no job. Everyone blamed her mother for that including women folk, I was disgusted. Their reasoning was mother didn’t respect her husband (i.e., girl’s father). Well with few interactions what I have had with that couple I never felt they disrespected each other. But that mother is supposedly a woman with strong opinions and has done things her own way and has her own career and that is disrespect for husband????

    Till this mentality changes nothing will change…….


  42. I guess they’ll argue that this too is due to the influence of Western culture. Because you know, Indian culture has always been and will always be PERFECT. ;]

    It’s quite sad… we’re the kings and queens of double standards.

    And to the people who’re saying marriage is different from wedlock, I don’t agree. Child marriage and teenage pregnancy are no different. Neither mother knows what she is doing.

    Me – I agree Ariyathe! Neither of the mother knows what she is doing!!


  43. To get pregnant before or after marriage is a personal decision to make. What does culture got to do with it?

    Only the incompetent and the ones who cant stand by their decisions hide behind such justifications.


    • just my 2 cents, it is not about ‘na-jayaz’ kid, it is about having a baby when mom is still a child…. it is not right for mom not to have right childhood and it is not right for baby also not to have right nourishment in every sense …


  44. That’s very typical of us Indians. We just keep blowing the trumpet of our ‘great’ indian culture? And pray, what is ‘great’ about it? That we *most* women remain virgins till they get married and have kids after marriage and remain married to one person in their lives. Whether they are happy in the marriage, are being forced to have sex in the name of marriage, made to bear kids even if they don’t want to is something we don’t even think about.
    We just love to point fingers to the west and say “see they have no culture.” They are having pre marital sex and unwed teenage mothers. I’d like to know which is better. Pre marital sex with someone you wanted to have sex with, or post marital rape from a person you’ve hardly met? Teenage pregnancies that you can avoid / abort/ or deliver in a safe environment or teenage pregnancy that you are forced to bear and deliver unassisted in village homes ?

    Me – Well said 🙂 And let me get a link to a news article in the TOI today..


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  46. good comparison of the the same issue in the two different end of the world.

    Teen-age pregancy in east due to early marraige,
    and in west due to no issue having sex before marriage. ANd here is it is an issue also becuase of lack of knowledge about sex educations. Many schools here, have projects in class room – for boys and gals. They are supposed to pick a bag of flour or a puppy or some kind of an object, say a doll, make it his/her baby and do all is supposed to one is supposed to do for a baby. it teaches them lesson that sex is not just fun…it can have consequences. teenagers learn that way that raising baby is not a game and creates awareness in them. in some state abortion is not legal, some religions do not allow abortion so it is hard in US too – to have a baby at teenage, but i agree , they can move on afterwards, after putting baby in good hands or foster care. but it still does not make it right ….to have a baby when one merely a child, married or not married. it is unjustice to that baby…..


  47. Any act, and its consequences have to be viewed over a long period. The idea of having kids and raising them is to have some security/ someone to take care of when ppl attain their old age. What if all the men and women decide not to have children at all, because it is tough to raise kids? What if all the men and women decide not to marry because it doesn’t let them be independent? Both the above situations are not necessarily bad, as even such actions have certain unique benefits and certain unique problems associated with them. A coin always has two sides.

    Life is more about sharing responsibilities and that’s what a marriage is there to ascertain. But, as with all well-intentioned things, people have started to look at marriage as some kind of financial exchange / growth platform!

    If the question is about who has control – parents or siblings – I would say it is immaterial. Both of them can, and will make mistakes.

    Me – DI I agree. I just feel that there should never be any compulsion to marry or to have kids. Unwilling parents make very unhappy, badly adjusted kids – most criminals have had such a childhood. Similarly marriage – men who should not have been forced to marry at least no to the woman they were married to, end up being resentful, uncaring, cruel husbands, and abusive fathers. Though there may be an occasional man who falls in love with domesticity, but thousands of women are stuck in such marriages- suicide rate for women in India is really sad, let me get you a link with more information.
    All rules regarding personal lives should only be treated as guidelines. I know I would never want anyone dear to me to married to a partner who isn’t ready for marriage for whatever reasons. Similarly motherhood or fatherhood. I have seen parents who I wouldn’t have left my child alone for half an hour with, bringing up half a dozen unhappy, abused, confused children.
    Don’t you think compulsion – social or from family results in resentment and bitterness?


  48. Educate the girls and let them think for themselves.. this is the only way.. and then maybe these girls dont have to depend on others (specially the men around her) to make healthy choices…like avoiding early marriages and even teen pregnancies…

    and for education to come about for those in the lower income group, one needs to eradicate poverty /support the “free education for all” program .. Guess the US has invested much for it’s citizens while India is yet to do so..

    and for those girls in the upper income group, if neither education nor money can make them stronger then what else? how long shall we blame the culture?

    Happy Kitten- Education and financial self reliance does not help, parents’ and the victim’s wish to think for herself, instead of following what she is culturally,traditionally, socially conditioned to do is the only thing that can help a child in such a situation 😦 I wish there was some way I could do something- there is no news of it now… is she with the child?…did she get medical care? ..did her parents help her? No idea 😦 Did some social organisation come forward to help her ? How does one find out?


  49. nd we thought the girls in the US has more powers.. or that with more personal freedom will come greater strength.. do check this report..

    Coerced Reproduction
    Experts are studying a phenomenon that brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘unwanted pregnancy.

    Reproductive coercion among adolescents could be an overlooked factor behind the United States’s unusually high, and now increasing, teen-pregnancy rate.


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  52. Just read this post – as relevant six months later (unfortunately). A friend ( a guy) would joke, “What parents we have? Until we get married, they guard to make sure there are no ‘trains going off rails’, then one day they say, now you are married, go sleep with a stranger!’

    Wish we would keep our lines of communication open with our kids, help them with their decisions, even if we would have done things differently. Seems to me that a lot of teenage pregnancies can history if we would come out of denial that teenagers in India are sexually active! It is not only in the big, bad West. Hormones are hormones every where!!

    Me – Absolutely Sangitha! Said that we live in this denial…
    It’s worse of one is poor. I am seeing my maid’s 14 year old niece go through hell because of this…


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  54. I didn’t get enough time to read all the comments.
    but after reading the article i felt like, the writer is comparing two different issues here.
    I think teenage pregnancy and teenage marriages is two completely different issues.

    I agree that child marriages is a big issue in india ecspecially in rajasthan. but this is different.

    and i agree that this seriously needs to change. but i don’t like that u are saying teenage pregnancies in US is atleast better just because the mother gets support and is not abandoned by the society.


    • Isn’t it better that a teenage mother and her baby get health care and support? Why do you see that as wrong?

      And child marriage is only one issue, apart from that all over India girls are married as teenagers, they have no say in these marriages. They have pregnancies, often many pregnancies in the hope for a male child, they work in fields and at construction sites with small babies – no care, no respect, domestic violence, mental abuse, sexual abuse (by the husband), poor nutrition and general unhappiness and hardships are facts of life for them.
      Ask the teenage mothers in India and in the West if they would like to exchange their situations – who do you think is better off?


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  56. In USA, it is legal to start dating from the age of 12 to 15, depending on which state you live. So how does premarital sex leading to pregnancy be all good while a marriage with its corresponding responsibilities on the girl and boy be something to ridicule.

    As far as the point of domestic violence is concerned, US registers as many cases as does India. And by the way, how is the permission to get a girl pregnant and then leave her to fend for herself something to appreciate?

    While it is well accepted that teen pregnancies of both the countries needs to be done away with but sanctity of marriage should be supported as an ideal and not licentious sex!


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  58. This subject itself made me feel what nonsense..India , every family knows of their previous generation or someone known like maid etc where they had kids in teenage…We people downplay such happenings in our country and ready to say America is bad..Rather western culture is bad, Our culture is the most Callous and Hollow one since 2-3 centuries atleast…


  59. Pingback: The Bad, Bad West! | Any Excuse to Write…

  60. Pingback: The Onus of Pregnancy in a Voluntary Society | Rational Libertarian Corner

  61. Hello Indian Homemaker,

    It was a nice article and I am happy to find it out and read it.

    You said,
    Teen pregnancies are often quoted as an example of the degeneration of the US or the Western culture. Are teen pregnancies unheard of India?

    I would like to ask you, are you sure that teen pregnancies in India are not increasing because of the ‘so-called’ degeneration of the Indian Society?

    Recently, an unmarried girl of 15 declared that she will deliver her baby (obviously she cannot abort because she is almost 7 months pregnant). The father of the yet-unborn child is just 17 years old, both of them are teen, UNMARRIED. The boy denies taking responsibility of the child and hence he has been jailed for the charge of rape (WHICH I STRONGLY OPPOSE AS IT IS WRONG).

    I have my own view about teen pregnancies…. Please take a look here ‘Onus of Pregnancy in a Voluntary Society’


  62. Pingback: Pregnant at fifteen? No moral issues. Unmarried and pregnant at fifteen. Degeneration of society. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  63. maybe indian women should just MAN up and refuse to be forced into marriage. and maybe they should learn to use contraceptives. just giving birth to children when you don’t have the means to look after them is just plain stupid. and the worst part? teen pregnancies in india lead to the birth of malnourished children who usually turn out to be uneducated like their parents.


    • Depends. There are men in Western Europe who marry women from Eastern Europe or Thailand or such, because they consider them “more subservient”, and such a husband in a country where she doesn’t know the local language would be hell for any woman. So … no, marriyng a foreigner is not always a way out.


  64. Pingback: Who benefits from criminalizing consensual teenage sex? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  65. Pingback: Taking responsibility for improving (?) men’s sex lives empowers women? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  66. Pingback: An email: Child out of wedlock | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  67. Pingback: 47% of children being born in UK were out of wedlock. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  68. Pingback: How do you think would the ‘social order’ be impacted with this kind of parenting? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  69. Pingback: “See – UNICEF has figured it out. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  70. Pingback: Child marriage “is an evil worse than rape” and should be completely eradicated from society, said a Delhi court | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  71. Pingback: And here is why women are so helpless in marriage issues and in their martial home. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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