Abortions among teenage girls below 15 years in Mumbai have recorded an alarming 67% rise in 2014-15. Civic data accessed through an RTI further shows that out of 31,000 women who opted for medical termination of pregnancy, 1,600 were below the age of 19.
Andheri east and west emerged as the abortion centres, reporting nearly 6,000 cases. Civic officials have attributed the increase to better and more accurate reporting.
Social and health pundits, however, also hinted at the possibility of young girls being exploited as well as the prevalence of under-age marriages in Indian society. A senior doctor from a civic hospital said, “Teenage pregnancies are becoming common, though most prefer to get it done in private set-ups for privacy issues.”
“The numbers are shocking,” said gynaecologist and former president of Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India Dr Suchitra Pandit. “What is worrisome is these girls are just out of school. On the one hand, we have more and more young girls walking up to doctors and asking for contraceptives, and on the other, we have these statistics,” she added.
She believes the reasons vary from curiousity to exploitation to sheer ignorance about safe sex. Calling the trend of unwanted pregnancies alarming, health experts harped on the need for better sex education in schools and colleges.