Social stigma towards teenage mothers in Zombo District
Pifua, Emma Hope
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In recent years, teenage motherhood has been increasingly problematized by policy makers and wider societal discourse; it is considered an undesirable life pathway and subjected to significant degree of stigma (Yardley 2008). Studies have showed that young motherhood is often constructed as a social economic problem. In social policy (Breheny and Stephens, 2007; Arai, 2009, Duncan, Edwards and Alexander, 2010), government officials, policy makers and social workers often expect young women to be in schools or employed and thus see their motherhood as a risk and an interruption of a pathway from school to work (Yardley, 2008; Finlay et al, 2010). Negative stereotypes of teen motherhood may be internalized by the young women in ways that can create feelings of shame, fear, insecurity and frustration (SmithBattle, 2013), with serious consequences. Social stigma and generalization of teenage motherhood as being problematic by policy makers and in wider societal discourse can contribute to social exclusion (Yardley, 2008) as well as marginalization of parenting teenagers. Studies have showed that teenage mothers’ access to support and Sexual and Reproductive Health care services can be negatively affected as health care workers may question or reprimand teenage mothers instead of supporting and counseling them. This puts young mothers at risk of not seeking health services for fear of being treated harshly by health workers. WAF and RICE, (2014), note that teenage pregnancy in Zombo district is associated with many social problems including early forced marriage, low educational levels, higher rates of poverty, inadequate basic sex education in fundamentals of Sexual and Reproductive Health, limited access to affordable contraceptive options, this has caused social stigma in many communities in the district, increase in cases of HIV/AIDS among those pregnant teens, and high rates of school drop outs. This unbecoming trend of teenage pregnancies has resulted into increased rates of teenage motherhood in the district and this has further led to increased social stigma perpetuated towards them. The increase in teenage pregnancies has the potential to perpetuate social stigma towards the teenage mothers, a number of questions thus remain. What are the forms of social stigma perpetuated towards teenage mothers in the district? Who are the perpetuators of these forms of social stigma towards the teenage mothers in the district? What are the effects of these forms of social stigma on the teenage mothers in the district? How do the teenage mothers in the district react and cope up with stigma perpetuated on them in the district? The study therefore aimed to investigate social stigma towards the teenage mothers in Paidha Sub County, Zombo district.