Thailand struggles to curb high teen pregnancy rate
BANGKOK (REUTERS) - When Mallika told her parents she was pregnant at 17, they pulled her out of school and ordered her to marry the baby's father. But the marriage didn't happen and the one-time aspiring singer now cares for her baby girl alone.
"I love her, but at the time I hid in shame," said Mallika, now 23 and a vendor of cheap, made-in-China clothing at a weekend market in Thailand's capital, Bangkok.
"The boy's family wanted to pay me to shut up and stay away from them. We were both children ourselves," she added, sitting in her dilapidated apartment overlooking a highway on the outskirts of Bangkok.
Mallika's situation is, sadly, far from unusual. Thailand's teenage pregnancy rate is the highest in South-east Asia after neighbouring Laos, according to the Bureau of Reproductive Health at the Thai Public Health Ministry.