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Mexico has highest teen pregnancy rate of OECD countries: UNICEF

Xinhua, October 12, 2016 Adjust font size:

Mexico has the highest rate of teen pregnancy of any country within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a United Nations agency reported on Tuesday.

For every thousand births in Mexico, 64 involve adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Within the 35-member OECD, Mexico also has the highest infant mortality rate among teenage mothers, with 77 per one thousand births.

The figures were released to mark International Day of the Girl Child on Oct.11, designated to highlight the obstacles faced by girls around the world, due to their age and gender.

UNICEF's representative in Mexico, Christian Skoog, noted teen pregnancy is a problem throughout Latin America, where a third of all pregnancies involve mothers who are under 18 years of age, with 20 percent of cases involving mothers younger than 16.

According to Skoog, teenage pregnancies are often the result of violence against women, with studies showing that more than 60 percent of young girls in Mexico experiencing some form of violence in 2015.

Some "63 percent of girls and adolescents between the ages of one and 14 reported suffering at least one form of physical or psychological punishment at home," Skoog said at the presentation of a campaign to raise awareness about the issue.

"The first step towards prevention (of violence) is empowering girls," said Skoog. "Girls who are more educated and more empowered have better chances to make good decisions to contribute to making their surroundings safer."

A National Health and Nutrition Survey found 23,000 cases of reported sexual violence against adolescents in 2014, more than the 21,714 cases reported in 2012, indicating a growing problem.

As the world commemorates the Day of the Girl, said Skoog, "it is very important to unite efforts to reveal and reduce the problems that girls and adolescents in Mexico face." Enditem