Bengaluru: Karnataka is grappling with a distressing surge in teenage pregnancies, with more than 45,000 cases reported in the state from January 2020 to June 2023. Startling data obtained through a Right to Information (RTI) request by Mysuru-based NGO, Odanadi which focused on sexual protection and rehabilitation, reveals a troubling trend that demands immediate attention.
Statistics from the Health and Family Welfare Services of Karnataka, as revealed by the obtained data, lay bare the gravity of the situation. The data disclosed a sharp escalation in teen pregnancies over the last three years. In 2020, the state witnessed 10,101 teenage pregnancies, a figure that surged to 13,159 in 2021. The situation worsened further, with 2,736 teenage pregnancies reported between January and June 2023.
The cumulative number of teenage pregnancies in Karnataka between January 2020 and June 2023 stands at a staggering 45,557,. L. Parasuram, co-founder of Odanadi Seva Sansthe, expressed his concern about the lack of discussion and action around this pressing issue despite the concerning rise in numbers.
The implications of teenage pregnancies extend beyond mere statistics. Adolescent mothers often face disruptions in their education, while both mothers and infants frequently suffer from malnutrition. Furthermore, the health and lives of these young mothers and their babies are put at risk due to the complications associated with teen pregnancies.
L. Parasuram drew attention to the need for comprehensive family counseling and guidance for minor mothers, stressing the necessity for their holistic support. The state government is urged to address the multifaceted challenges arising from teenage pregnancies, emphasizing that these issues should be a priority in policy discussions.
Additional data from the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA) underscores the plight of minors who have suffered from sexual assault. Over the last three years (2020 to 2023), a total of 584 minor victims of sexual assault have been compensated. ₹5.84 crore was awarded to 219 minor victims in 2020-21, ₹5.29 crore to 210 victims in 2021-22, and ₹6.68 crore to 178 victims in 2022-23.
Former member of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR), L. Parasuram, has urged authorities to take stringent action against the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. The growing numbers of teenage pregnancies and sexual assaults among minors demand urgent and focused intervention to protect the rights and well-being of the youth in the state.