I have to say that I have been having a lot of conversations recently about teenage promiscuity and teenage pregnancy in Chile— sparked not only by my work, but also by two recent news stories: the wena naty videos and the couple selling their unborn child on the internet. Let’s review these cases for those not living in Chile and thus not bombarded by them.
The “wena naty” video has been a story circulating in Chile for weeks. Full story here. Basically, a 14 year old girl was video taped (by a cell phone) having oral sex with classmates presumably on school grounds. Afterwards, the video was put up on the internet, the girl was expelled, and the country has vacillated between shock and laughter. The girl, expelled from school, is now known throughout the country and is going to have a hard time living this one down.
The second is the story of a teenage couple who decide to try and sell their unborn child over the internet. Full story here. Basically, they were young, got pregnant, didn’t know what to do and decided to try and make some money off the situation. Currently Child and Family Services is involved and has promised to protect both mother and child.
And some facts:
- Chile’s National Institute for Youth reports that almost 14 percent of Chilean women are mothers by the age of 14.
- An average 40,000 babies are born to women younger than age 19 every year.
- Only recently has emergency contraception become a viable option for Chilean women (and girls) age 14 and up.
Needless to say, these stories have started a conversation about teenagers (and children) having sex in Chile. Sadly, all too often these conversations don’t seem to go anywhere. In the case of Naty, it has become a joke which people laugh about. Rarely have I had a conversation with anyone about the underlying machismo that resulted in the girl being vilified and expelled while nothing happened to the boys. Nor have I had conversations (that I didn’t start) about the fact that we are really talking about child pornography here.
In the case of the teens trying to sell their children most people have been shocked. The reasons the children gave (to buy a car, because you can’t go to parties with a little one) are horrifying. At the same time, it is not leading to a much needed conversation about sex education and access to contraception that needs to take place on a national level.
Admittedly, it has been a long time since I was in high school (both here and in the states), but sadly very little has changed. About the only progress here in Chile is that girls who get pregnant are not automatically expelled from school as they were in the past. However, the sex education is still negligible at best. And, teens who want to have safe sex, continue to have problems in accessing condoms or birth control– especially out in the regions where stores may simply refuse to sell them to teens or threated to tell the teen’s mother.