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Teenage pregnancy contextualized: understanding reproductive intentions in a Brazilian shantytown

DOI: 10.1590/S0102-311X2012000400005

Keywords: pregnancy in adolescence, contraception, family planning.

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Abstract:

this paper presents the results of a socio-anthropological study with women from a low-income community in belo horizonte, minas gerais state, brazil. through the use of qualitative methods it looks at teenage pregnancy from the young mothers' perspective and the contribution of their socioeconomic environment. it shows the importance of different actors in their fertility decision and identifies contradictory cultural norms that recriminate teenage sexual activity while seeing motherhood as a ritual of passage to adulthood. following criticisms of insufficient family planning programs and negative health and economic outcomes for the lives of youngsters, the paper argues that motherhood stands as a successful activity through which they fulfill the collectively recognized ideal of womanhood, also carrying a sense of achievement in an environment where lack of opportunities prevail long before pregnancy occurs. improving formal knowledge and economic well-being are possible solutions to provide these girls with goals that go beyond parenthood while within reach of their economic reality.

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