Africa’s girls: The faces of adolescent pregnancies

Although adolescent pregnancy has always been an issue not just relegated to developing countries, highly developed countries in Europe and Northern America have also seen their share of teen and pre-teen pregnancies. Unfortunately, young girls in impoverished countries tend to endure the most traumatic experience during childbirth and even after childbirth when the quest for survival is ultimately paramount with some, out of desperation, attempt abortions in unsafe conditions. According to the World Health Organization – WHO,

  • About 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 and some 1 million girls under 15 give birth every year—most in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the second cause of death for 15-19 year-old girls globally.
  • Every year, some 3 million girls aged 15 to 19 undergo unsafe abortions.
  • Babies born to adolescent mothers face a substantially higher risk of dying than those born to women aged 20 to 24.

Paolo Patruno, a photographer and filmmaker while on assignment in East Africa, started noticing that Adolescents who had gotten pregnant early had one or a combination of the following experiences:

  • becomes a societal outcast
  • drops out of school
  • stop her career,
  • enters int a forced marriage
  • stopped living altogether

The filmmaker started to document this agonizing experience in his project Birth Is A Dream, in an effort to raise awareness on the issues of  Adolescent pregnancies in impoverished countries. Below are some of the pictures he captured.


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