"Most of us thought about being mothers before thinking about playing basketball." A rumor of surprise invades the auditorium of the Andrés de Vandelvira Institute, in Albacete, when the testimony of Erika Oliver appears in the short film Mom at 15 "Hello, my name is Monica, I am 15 years old and I am going to be a mother", announces another of the girls interviewed in this documentary, a film shown in institutes of the capital of La Mancha as part of a program of sexual education and prevention of pregnancies among minors . Laughter and shyness are the first reactions after the screening of the video, although little by little a lively debate will open up. "If we want you to see this short film, it is because we think that this is a frequent problem", says Professor Mónica Sanz.
"In gym class we put the soccer ball or basketball as if we were pregnant, and the following year we were pregnant most," Oliver continues in the documentary. Castilla-La Mancha is the community with the second highest maternity rate in Spain in children up to 15 years, according to the National Institute of Statistics. If the Spanish average in 2017 was 1.83 mothers of up to 15 years for every 1,000 women, in Castilla-La Mancha it was 3.21; Extremadura only exceeded it (3.30). The fertility rate in children up to 15 years old shoots in Albacete to five mothers per thousand women.
Lola Garví is the delegate of Medicus South Mundi, NGO that collaborates with programs for vulnerable children in the public education system of Albacete. Garvi contacted Mario Torrecillas, screenwriter and director from Barcelona who has made himself known for documentaries about children at risk of exclusion. Torrecillas had to realize in Albacete courses of animation for professors and students with a high index of scholastic failure that prepare for the FP. Looking for a subject in which to apply the acquired knowledge -the students took care to create the images in stop motion that appear in the film-, Torrecillas came up with the problem of adolescent motherhood through Javier Villalba, a teacher at the La Paz school, in the neighborhood of La Milagrosa in Albacete.
La Milagrosa, also known as Las 600, is a sector of Albacete especially affected by urban degradation and social marginalization. The director of the short believes that Villalba is a hero: "In Las 600 there is a lot of school absenteeism, Javier says that he even goes to the children's house to take them to class". "A pregnant girl, they saw it as fatal, in fact, because of shame they did not come [al colegio]"explains Villalba.
Laughter and shyness are the reactions in the institute after watching the movie
Most of the mothers who have participated in the short film are from the gypsy community of La Milagrosa. "There are cases in other institutes, but they did not agree to be interviewed, it is not a phenomenon that is limited to that neighborhood," says Garví. María Dolores Artigau, director of Andrés de Vandelvira, recalls that in 2018 they had a student who remained in a state, but who refused to participate in the documentary. "When I got pregnant, I dropped out of school, because it was uncomfortable, then I resumed my studies, I even took the children to school," explains Gema González, one of the mothers who give their testimony in Mom at 15 Gonzalez had twins with 17 years old, today she is 29. She is the oldest of the mothers who appear in the short and says that in her class there was another student who was a mother when she was a minor.
The debate in the auditorium of Andrés de Vandelvira, on March 20, was attended by 80 students between 13 and 18 years old and half a dozen teachers. A teacher asked why the parents do not appear in the documentary. The answer is included in the film: the parents, some minor, have disregarded.
"At the beginning I did not want to see my son, I was not knowing anything about him for a while, because I looked at him and he was like his father, he shocked me and gave it to my mother," says María Moreno in the short film. Gema González decided to continue with the pregnancy because she decided it with her father, who was 21 years old. But he quickly disclaimed: "The situation was great, I went to live with my parents, and with them and my brothers we took care of the children". González confirms that her classmate who was a mother like her was also left by her partner.
González believes that sexual education has improved, there is more and more information, "and parents get more involved". Despite this, a young woman took the floor in the debate to explain that she is ashamed to talk about sex at home: "I'm not going to tell my mother to give me 15 euros for a box of condoms." A boy recalled that there are pharmacies with dispensers in the street; another added that at the Youth Center of the City Council they offer free prophylactics: "You go in, you ask for a condom and they give it to you without asking anything". Eva Hernández, monitor of the sex education program of Medicus Mundi, remarked that condoms are also the most effective way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
"Because of shame they did not come to class", says a teacher of the pregnant students
Artigau emphasizes that the Youth Center conducts sexual orientation sessions in high schools and that, in the last visit in the Andrés de Vandelvira, 15 students asked for an appointment to solve doubts or emergencies. "Young people open up more with strangers", confirms Artigau. Sanz points out that many of the sexual patterns that adolescents follow have been assumed through information on the Internet. "Without the necessary knowledge, 30% or 40% of the girls periodically take the pill the day after, with the health risk that this entails. from the example of porn, They take Viagra to last longer, "warns this teacher." Most guys want to do it like in porn videos, also some girls. Pornography is the only manual we have, "says Llanos, one of the students who collaborated in the creation of Mom at 15 Gemma González removes iron from the influence of pornography: "Before, it also happened and there was no internet, I was not looking for pregnancy and I was aware of the necessary measures to avoid it, but there are situations in which you act without thinking".
Another student of the team that participated in the short admits that she became pregnant with 14 years and that she had an abortion, but that her example is not the usual one in her environment. "Abortion is badly seen by the majority of society, it is very difficult to face," say their partners María and Víctor, 17 years old. Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that in Castilla-La Mancha, 3.2% of voluntary interruptions of pregnancy in Spain occurred in 2017. The population of Castilla-La Mancha represents 4.3% of the national total.
Rosa Marí Ytarte, director of the Research Group on Education and Society (GEIS) of the University of Castilla-La Mancha, does not believe that this autonomous community has a significant gap in affective-sexual education. Ytarte believes that in order to understand the La Mancha deficit with respect to the Spanish average, the socio-cultural aspects of the region should be thoroughly investigated, taking into account that the rate of voluntary interruptions of pregnancy in the community is only slightly lower than the Spanish average.
Ytarte points out that the higher maternity rate among adolescents in the community could be due to a more conservative society "and with more fear of openness". "Adolescence and sexuality begin before, but prejudices and taboos are maintained, and this is accompanied by the influence of what they discover in social networks," says Ytarte.
Luis Rodríguez Molinero, doctor and researcher of the Spanish Society of Adolescent Medicine (SEMA), indicates that Castilla-La Mancha would respond to sexual education typical of interior Spain, less open than that of coastal communities: "In these regions of the interior there are more atavisms, above all we must take into account the cultural level of these mothers and their environment, whether it is rural or urban. " Rodriguez Miller adds that in "certain social groups there is a powerful reason to be teenage mothers, and that is that when they have the child, they are treated better, they rise in social status."