Teenagers account for 70 percent of secret abortions in Vietnam

By Bui Hong Nhung   June 30, 2016 | 05:08 pm PT
Young people account for 70 percent of secret abortions in Vietnam, according to Nguyen Thi Hoai Duc, head of Vietnam's Institute for Reproductive and Family Health.

Youngsters aged between 13 and 19 account for 70 percent of secret abortions in Vietnam, and some even have more than one, Duc told a meeting on June 29.

“Many girls visit clinics three of four times to have abortions even though they are provided with information about pregnancy prevention as well as the risks of abortion,” she said.

Duc cited results from a survey conducted by Vietnam’s General Statistics Office, which showed that about 36 percent of Vietnamese adolescents aged 14-17 have had sex, and even some 10-12 year-old girls are having consensual sex. The survey also revealed that at least 8.4 percent of females from 15 to 24 have had at least one abortion.

The Health Advisory Centre under the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology said that young girls are admitted to the hospital for abortions every day.

More alarmingly, some of them have fetuses which are more than 12 weeks old, making it dangerous for the mothers to have an abortion.

“After realizing they are pregnant, many students buy drugs to abort the pregnancy without consulting a doctor, and that can have serious consequences,” Duc said.

Children need to be taught about sex

The head of Vietnam’s Institute for Reproductive and Family Health said that most Vietnamese parents feel awkward about talking to their children about sex, but it's better to inform them than let them face the consequences of their actions later on.


Nguyen Thi Hoai Duc, head of Vietnam’s Institute for Reproductive and Family Health, at a meeting on June 29. Photo from a government news portal.

She added she has seen some parents go into denial when doctors tell them their 13-yearl-old is pregnant, and even become abusive. They claim that their children are very obedient and the doctors are lying.

Duc explained that both families and schools often avoid discussing sex while information from other sources, especially the internet, can be easily accessed. As a result, children search for information in secret, and it's only when they get pregnant that their parents realize the problem.

In term of schools’ responsibility to provide sex education, Tran Quoc Hai, principal of Cat Linh High School in Hanoi, claimed that teachers feel embarrassed and ashamed talking to students about sex.

He said: “In my school, some teachers responsible for sex education are not married, so how can they provide detailed information to students. Just showing images of human bodies to children makes them shy.”

The principal said there should be more training programs for teachers to learn about how to offer reproductive knowledge to students. In addition, health centers should visit schools more regularly to handle problems involving love and sex.

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