Dr. Gloria Luz M. Nelson, a social science researcher of the DOST – National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST - NRCP) found out in her research funded by the Population Commission (POPCOM) that teenage girls, ages ranging 10 – 19 years old are the most vulnerable group during the time of stay in evacuation and relocation centers. Dr. Nelson cited poor condition and minimal provision for privacy and security as factors.
The research also shows that relocation or displacement impacts the personality and behavior of teenage girls. Dr. Nelson explained that the number of moves from one shelter to another could trigger a prolonged return of teenage girls to their “normal life.”
The results of her study also reveal that teenage girls are most likely to get molested or pregnant with the length of their stay in evacuation shelters. Dr. Nelson said that two out of ten teenage girls in Eastern Visayas got pregnant regardless of the severity of a typhoon.
She said that after typhoon Yolanda hit in 2013, from the total population of teenage girls in the Region, 23.5% got pregnant, 29.9% had premarital sex, and 14.8% got pregnant and had another child the year next. A year after, the number of pregnant girls increased after typhoon Ruby hit the Region in 2014. Data shows that 23.6% got pregnant, 32.3% had premarital sex, and 21.6% got pregnant and had another child the year next.
Dr. Nelson also cited other teenage girl characteristics which could be associated with pregnancy: the social characteristics -- age of menarche, socio-economic status, educational attainment; the non-sexual risky factor – drinking of alcoholic beverages, exposure to pornographic materials, suicide attempts; the sexual risky behavior – premarital sexual experience, sexual initiation between ages 15-19, having a boyfriend, and/or having more than 3 boyfriends at these ages. .
Dr. Marieta Bañez Sumagaysay, the NRCP Executive Director and an NRCP social science researcher herself, recognizes the importance of one of the recommendations of this research which is the inclusion in House Bill 474 (Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy) some provisions that will address both the sexual and non-sexual risk factors that increase the incidence of teenage pregnancy in times of disasters.
The research results along with the other of policy recommendations was presented during the NRCP Visayas Policy Forum hosted by UP Visayas Tacloban College and the POPCOM Region VIII headed by Dr. Virgildo E. Sabalo and Director Elnora Pulma, respectively on November 3, 2017.
Among the panelists are Dr. Rolando Daya, Leyte Provincial Health Officer; Ms Lyra of POPCOM-CO; _and Prof Ladylyn Mangada of UPVTC (NRCP member, Division VIII). DOST Leyte Provincial Director Engr Glenn Ocana welcomed the guests.
Dr. Christina A. Binag, NRCP President, stressed on the importance of the activity as NRCP’s way of bringing to stakeholders the scientific and empirical evidence in aid of policymaking and program implementation.