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Contact Admin. In a file photo, Doratea, 5, does her homework as her mother Candelaria, who is six months pregnant, makes corn tortillas for lunch in their adobe home on the outskirts of Chiquimula. She also is the mother of a baby she bore at age 14 when she had sex with her teacher but did not know where babies came from. Like Angela, many girls and women in Guatemala have unwanted pregnancies due to a lack of information about sex and their own bodies and endemic violence, according to women's healthcare campaigners.
Guatemala has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in Latin America, putting girls on a path to poverty and dependence rather than school or decent work. Government statistics cited by Planned Parenthood Federation recorded more than 5, pregnancies by girls under 14 in - and in four out of five cases the offender was a close relative such as a father, uncle or grandparent. One quarter of the children in Guatemala were born to adolescent mothers in the last five years, data shows.
Ignorance about reproduction is rooted in traditional culture and teachings of the Catholic Church and evangelical churches, where girls learn that talk of sex is shameful or forbidden, said volunteers with mentoring program Abriendo Oportunidades Opening Opportunities. Mothers often do not know how to tell daughters about their menstrual cycle, and the secrecy is compounded because so many pregnancies are caused by sexual violence within families, according to campaigners.
Sex education is taught in schools but campaigners say it is often incomplete or irrelevant, given that fewer than half the girls in Guatemala attend secondary schools. Maternal health and reproductive services are often expensive and unavailable to those living in the country's vast highlands, far from cities.
High levels of sexual violence against women and girls are said to stem from the low status of women, especially indigenous Mayan women, in Guatemala's patriarchal and macho society. Guatemala has one of the highest rates of violent deaths among women. Two women are killed every day, according to the UN Women, citing government statistics showing women were killed violently in Laws were toughened up in when the minimum age for marriage was raised to 18 from 14 for girls and 16 for boys, although year-old girls can marry with a judge's permission under some circumstances.