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Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Unwed Mums::40% are Undergrads



In late Oct, a UUM student was reported giving birth in her dormitory room. She hid the baby and initially refused to acknowledge that she had given birth, instead she told her medical attendants that she was having heay menses. Fortunately for the newborn, it was eventually found. The 2.5kg baby was reported to have managed to survive as she was sustained by the nutrients from the placenta attached to her body. After the initial furore, mention was made to see how this poor girl should be punished, criminal charges and varsity expulsion were mentioned. Did i detect 'apparent delight' by some unforgiving souls that she may not be there when the new varsity term opens. There was a more compassionate response from a medical undergrad that there was no need to add insult to injury.
Now it takes at least two to make a baby as everyone would acknowledged. But nowhere in the furore was mention made of taking action against the putative father of the baby. Shouldn't he be also be punished, if that was indeed the manner to deal with such cases. Fortunately, the poor girl has understanding parents who are willing to stand by her and they have offered to take care of the baby. Our Women, Family and Community Development MINIster has also been sympathetic and have offered counselling for the girl by officers from her MINIstry.

The New Paper, that paper with headlines like :: Poker in the Park, We left Hubbies, babies for Romance....., Here's Looking at you, Babe!, etc. Recently came out with this report :: Unwed & Pregnant, 40% are Undergrads. The undergrads the paper talked about were Malaysian ones. The New Paper started off by saying ::
THEY turn up like abandoned kittens at the doors of women's-shelter homes.
Frightened, confused, pregnant... and unmarried.
But these are no wayward girls. They are bright, young, educated undergraduates, at the brink of a promising life and career.

The New Paper goes on to claim ::
Pusat Kebahagiaan Wanita dan Remaja (Kewaja), a women's and youth's shelter in Kuala Lumpur, for example, sees about 80 to 100 unwed mothers a year.
Of that, almost 40 per cent are undergraduates, says Kewaja director Yahya Mohamed Yusof.

The New Paper spoke also to Puan Rosmawati Zainal, director of the Raudhatus Sakinah Welfare Home, Puan Rosmawati said :: 'There are probably more out there that go unreported. There are clinics which do illegal abortions quietly.' 'We're seeing more undergraduates. They are not stupid. I see them as victims of manipulation. They fall in love easily and are easily influenced or pressured.

Kewaja Director said :: 'Some of these girls lead a double life. At home, they are obedient, pious girls and they wear the tudung (headscarf). 'But, away from their parents, in school, they go wild, they hang out with bad company and boys.'
a social worker with Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) said many of the girls come from sheltered backgrounds.

A social worker with WAO has this to say :: 'They come from small towns and when they go to the big city to study, it's like culture shock. They're suddenly exposed to so much freedom and all kinds of influences.'

It looks like the MINIster and her officers certainly are going to have plenty on their hands dealing with these unwed mothers. As have been noted before our local varsities have more woman than man undergrads in them, this is said to be an unusual phenomena in a developing country. To add on to the problems a lot of the women folk in the varsities are not prepared for the sweet talking 'wolves' and 'predators' to be found in the bigger cities where these varsities are located, so they easily fall prey to them. Coupled with the absence of pre-varsity counselling, lack of adequate sex education and absence of parental control, these young and presumably naive girls fall under the influence of their more urban male counterparts. As prevention is always better than cure. before the problem get worse the MINIster9s) concerned must take steps to nip it in the bud.

Steps and actions the gomen can take may include the following ::
  • Introduce more comprehensive sex education earlier on in schools
  • Parental guidance to be given, religious and moral guidance where appropriate
  • On enrolment into varsities, all undergrads to be given talks to prepare them for life in the varsity. Right and wrong actions to be spelt out.
  • Undergraduates to be guided on how to deal with 'predators'
  • Provide more counsellors in schools and varsities to nip problems early
  • Consider building more varsities in non-urban settings.
  • Provide guidance and counselling in cases which are after the fact instead of taking punitive actions and stoppage of education.




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