Representatives of the Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation (MWAF) told a gathering of young people last weekend that unwanted conception, infant abandonment, and child rape can be prevented by reversing the “wrong sexual attitudes of young people.”
These attitudes are inspired by the availability of sexual content on the internet, and they are responsible for the rising frequency of Myanmar girls living with men outside of marriage, losing their values, and losing their virginity, MWAF representatives said at the event, which was part of the Youth All-Round Development Festival, held at Yangon University from December 1 to 3.
The festival was organized by the Yangon Region government and several Union-level ministries as a forum for young people to share ideas about Myanmar culture, society, and morality, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar.
“Some mothers abandon their unwanted newborn infants after delivery. Every child wants to be brought up in the lap of their mother. Today’s children, being the leaders of the future – we don’t want them to start their lives with bitter experiences. If we can prevent unwanted conception, child abandonment would never occur,” said Dr. Pyone Mo Ei, a member of MWAF’s anti-child abandonment team.
“[Child abandonment] usually involves young people, so we believe unwanted conception and child abandonment would never occur if young people are educated about it,” she said.
During the same program, film star Khaing Hnin Wai spoke about the need for an education campaign to combat child rape.
“We seek to help eradicate child rape and reduce child abandonment… We want to educate young people as to why child rapes happen,” the actress said.
According to the Global New Light and Xinhua, the MWAF members then linked child rape and infant abandonment to changing values in the country.
“Girls across the world, including in Myanmar, are coming to lose their values and their virginity. Practices of living together without marriage are spreading into the environment of the youth. Web pages and periodicals on sex and pornography are available within the reach of young people. With the increasing use of social web pages, trust abuses are abundant,” they said.
They went on: “Living together and other reasons have caused unnecessary cases such as unwanted conception, child rapes, and child abandonments. By means of rightful education programs, we can reduce the wrong sexual attitudes of youths.”
Recorded cases of infant abandonment in Myanmar rose from six in 2011 to 20 in 2015, and those figures are thought to represent a fraction of all cases.
According to Akhaya Women, another women’s organization in Myanmar, several factors contribute to child abandonment, including a lack of education on contraception, a ban on legal abortions, the social stigma of unplanned pregnancy, the previous abandonment by the father of a child, poverty, and a lack of services available to single mothers.
“Single women are blamed for their fatherless children,” Akhaya Women’s director Ma Htar Htar told Myanmar Now in June 2016. She added that services to help mothers with unwanted pregnancies “will emerge when Myanmar people have more knowledge about human rights.”