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Mother’s Day – for babies

August 14th, 2006

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Costa Ricans take this holiday seriously! And somewhere, tomorrow, 12 year old Carolina will be celebrating her third Mother’s Day having given birth at age 9.

A couple of months ago, I was chatting with one of my employees, a 20 something young lady who was working for me as an intern. The subject got around to young girls getting pregnant in high school (colegio). She told me that before she graduated eight girls had become pregnant. Her class size was twenty-nine.

I spoke with my wife about this. I thought that must have been an aberration affecting just this woman’s schoolmates. Boy was I off base. My wife works at the second largest CAJA hospital in Costa Rica, and she told me that their adolescent unit has about 50- 60 girls, ages 9 to 14, giving birth every month!

This was such a staggering number I sorta stored my wife’s words in the “Okaaay” part of my brain and never repeated them to anyone.

Now, one of Costa Rica’s larger newspapers prints:

The Clínica de Adolescentes at the Calderón Guardia reports 50 new adolescent pregnancies every month. At another small women’s hospital, 40 young girls between the ages of 10 and 14 gave birth in 2005. Another 1,151 young girls 15 and 19 also gave birth last year.

In Costa Rica it seems, 14.316 of the 71.584 births were to adolescent mothers.

So 20% of the births in Costa Rica are to adolescents, some as young as nine.


2 Responses to “Mother’s Day – for babies”

  1. Aimee on August 21, 2006 7:44 pm

    Wow! I never knew that Costa Rica had so many adolescent mothers. What a shame. It must be one of the dirty little secrets.
    I guess I always assumed that type of thing happened mostly in Guatemala, I’m not sure why.

  2. Tim on August 22, 2006 8:05 am

    I have no idea about Guatemala but incest in Costa Rica is commonplace. These pregnancies are almost 100% fathers, uncles, brothers, etc. My wife sees these every day at the hospital and agrees that this is just out of control. Few are the results of rape.

    There is so much press here about foreigners coming here for the underage sex, but the fact is the real problem is right here in the home.

    Seldom is there an article in any newspaper about a foreigner being arrested for this, though of course it does happen, and when there IS an article, the person charged almost always has a Latin surname and lives here in country.

    One of the local (English speaking) newspapers here has for years tried to get this placed in perspective… to no avail. Far easier to blame a foreigner than accept responsibility for what is happening in the home.