Thesis

Cultural reproduction : child and adolescent pregnancy in rural Guatemala

Child and adolescent pregnancy is common in rural Guatemala. Researchers have examined this phenomenon by analyzing the high fertility rate in developing countries. My research adds to this discussion by exploring how cultural traditions and social norms in Maya communities influence early-life pregnancy. I collected observational data of a sex education workshop on Maya children and adolescents in rural Guatemala, as well as data from questionnaires from the workshop and in-depth interviews with women’s rights activists. Results show that issues such as rural residency, poverty, religious influences, lack of sex education and family planning programs, and sexual violence perpetuate the prevalence of early-life pregnancy. A comprehensive sex education curriculum, culturally-sensitive family planning programs, and the enforcement of laws that protect women’s rights are needed to decrease child and adolescent pregnancy rates in rural communities of Guatemala.

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