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Knowledge and attitudes of rural adolescent girls regarding reproductive health issues



Knowledge and attitudes of rural adolescent girls regarding reproductive health issues



National Medical Journal of India 13(3): 124-128



Adolescent girls (10-19 years old) comprise about 22% of women in India. They are the mothers of tomorrow and the burden of planned reproduction rests on them. Yet very little is known about their knowledge and attitudes towards reproductive health issues--a crucial aspect if India is to achieve the net reproduction rate of 1 by AD 2016. This study aimed to gather information on areas required for the planning of family life education strategies. This cross-sectional study was conducted in the government schools and anganwadi premises of three villages of the primary health centre, Chhainsa, under the Comprehensive Rural Health Services Project Area (CRHSP), Ballabgarh, Haryana. The participants were 254 girls aged 13 to 17 years, who had attained menarche. A pre-tested interview schedule was administered to each girl after taking permission from the principals and parents and with the consent of the participants. The knowledge and attitudes regarding age at marriage, concept of small family norm, family size and preference for a son were assessed. All the girls were aware that there is a law regarding legal age of marriage but only 165 (65%) of them knew the correct legal age. Early marriage was preferred by 19 (7.6%). Though 214 (84.3%) girls were aware of the small family norm, only 19 (8.8%) knew the exact norm. A preferred family size of two or less was reported by 151 (59.2%). Preference for a son was reported by 233 (91.7%). All the girls were aware of the small family norm, but few could correctly define it. Though most girls preferred a two-child family, almost all of them had a preference for at least one son. This preference for a son could dominate their future decision-making. As attitude development is a long-term process, there is indeed a long way to go.

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