Adolescent reproductive health is particularly neglected along the Thailand-Burma border. In traditional communities shame and prohibitions on unmarried sex exacerbate a lack of healthcare provision and education. Local organizations are often hesitant to provide family planning counseling and supplies to unmarried youth, even if they are brave enough to ask. As a result, early marriage due to pregnancy is not uncommon, and pregnant teens are forced to drop out of educational programs and risk losing factory or farming jobs. Unsafe abortion among adolescents is a widespread problem resulting in infection, infertility, and unnecessary deaths.
BBP has been working with the Adolescent Reproductive Health Network (ARHN, Mae Sot) and the Adolescent Reproductive Health Zone (ARHZ, Chiang Mai) since 2008 to improve adolescent reproductive health for migrants, refugees, and populations inside Burma. Our reproductive health team raises funds, coordinates volunteers, provides technical assistance, and promotes community research. We have helped to launch and sustain the ARHN Youth Center in a factory district outside Mae Sot. And we’ve published a beautiful photography book, Invisible Lives, to raise funds for ARHN’s work.
For more information on adolescent reproductive health along the Thailand-Burma border please read ARHN and BBP’s 2010 research report, Protecting Our Future: A Report on Adolescents’ Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices Related to Reproductive Health and Rights on the Thai/Burma Border.