In rural areas, girls marry young, while in the cities they’re free to shop and socialise.
A recent report by Save the Children said that young girls having babies has increased by 50% in the north of country. This upsurge is mostly happening in rural areas where girls are rigidly controlled by their parents. Consequently, they don’t feel like they have many choices for the lives, so they drop out of school and get married young.
But in the cities, lives of teenage women are radically different to their countryside counterparts. Although still very conservative, and subject to strict curfews, city girls also can spend their free time with friends prowling through malls, eating out, or skateboarding.
The increase in teenage pregnancies can also be attributed to widespread misinformation around contraception and abortion. Many Cambodian women and girls think that abortion is either illegal or that it will adversely affect their health.
Tackling these issues in Cambodia requires a lot of careful attention and resources by the government and international NGOs, yet with the re-instatement of the Mexico City Policy by President Trump and the US withdrawal from the UNFPA fund, the services that help Cambodian women in rural areas will become even sparser. It is doubtful that these problems of teenage pregnancy and misinformation about reproductive choices will diminish.