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Monday May 13, 2013

Number of young unmarried mothers rising

Mothers glorified: Fatimah cutting a cake  during the Mother's Day celebration  organised by Sarawak Single Mothers Mothers glorified: Fatimah cutting a cake during the Mother's Day celebration organised by Sarawak Single Mothers

KUCHING: The rising number of unwanted teenage pregnancies and unmarried mothers in Sarawak is worrying.

Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said based on statistics gathered at three main government hospitals in the state from 2009 to last year, there were 5,786 babies born to unmarried mothers.

“The majority of them are below 18 years old and some are as young as 13. Basically, these unmarried mothers are children and they have become mothers due to premarital sex.

“It is also not good for their health to give birth at such a tender age and there’s a social stigma that they have to face in the long run,” she said.

“In some cases, these girls married their boyfriends while some remained single and their parents helped to raise the grandchildren,” Fatimah said at a Mother’s Day gathering for single mothers here yesterday.

The Miri Hospital, Fatimah said, recorded 40 cases of babies born to unmarried mothers in 2009, 93 (2010), 188 (2011) and 253 (2012).

In Sibu, there were 480 cases in 2009, 570 (2010), 545 (2011) and 578 (2012); while in Kuching, 703 in 2009, 680 (2010), 829 (2011) and 827 (2012).

Fatimah called on parents to continuously impart moral and religious guidance to their children so that the young ones could discern between freedom and boundaries in boy-girl relationships.

“We also need to instill in them the sense of responsibility, respect and appreciation for the elderly and their parents,” she said.

On single mothers in Sarawak, Fatimah said 11,810 individuals were registered with NGOs.

In the Welfare Department’s record, there were 14,217 needy single mothers receiving monthly aid to sustain their children’s primary and secondary education which amounted to RM12.9mil a year, she said.

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