A. M. Ramya Kanthi Adhikari was a young woman of Thalakolaweva village of Rasnayakapura in Nikaveratiya divisional secretariat area of Kurunegala district. It saddens me to announce her untimely death. She was born on 2 April 1998 and was just over 18 when she died in September 2016.
But, can you believe that this 18 years old woman was a mother of four children by the time she died?
She died after giving birth to triplets. Doctors operated a cesarean section doubting she had twins needed to be saved through urgent premature delivery. However, Ramya could not survive the complications after the delivery of triplets.
She was already a mother of a 16 months old baby. That means she was merely 17 years old when she gave birth to the first baby.
According to official statistics (2015) there are over 20,780 girls aged between 12 to 17 years in Sri Lanka who are married or in cohabiting relationships. According to the Family Health Bureau, 5.3% of all registered pregnancies are teenage pregnancies.
Ramya Kanthi is one of them and her tragedy is further in numbers.
According to the maternal mortality report of 2014, 112 mothers have died due to complications related to maternity and childbirth while 349,715 childbirths took place in Sri Lanka in that year. Hence, the maternal mortality rate in 2014 was 32.03 per 100,000 childbirths. Sri Lanka’s maternal mortality rate lingers between 30 to 40 per 100,00 births although it is a progressive number compared to the global average.
However, still over 100 mothers die each year due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Of the 112 mothers thus died in 2014, 4% were young women less than 20 years of age, according to the Ministry of Health.
Ramya Kanthi was one of such women who had to pay by her life at a so young age. She married young and conceived four babies before she was 18 years old, actually before the age for legal marriage in Sri Lanka. Kurunegala district recorded the highest number of maternal deaths in 2014 and Ramya Kanthi also lived in that district.
Child marriage is a grave violation of human rights which directly impacts the education of the girls negatively.
Further, the young girls who are deprived of their childhood for the sake of marriage, often lack the power of decision making in sexual and reproductive health matters. In most cases, they are under-educated on sexual and reproductive health and lack knowledge on family planning.
As a result, they are at a high risk of maternal and reproductive health problems which include complications in pregnancy or childbirth and other long term health challenges.
How can we change this situation? Read about Behaviour Change Communication Strategy Guides