Impactful essay reveals the lives of teenage mothers in Latin America

We are used to reading news about children and teenagers becoming mothers, and even knowing the seriousness of this phenomenon, we end up not caring much about it, especially when it is not part of our nearest reality.

To try to rescue the importance of the subject and show how these young mothers are, photographer Christian Rodriguez came to know some of them in different regions of Latin America.

Rodriguez's work has gained this specific focus five years ago, and since then he has been accompanying these young mothers at times that include even childbirth.

Growing up in a poor neighborhood of Montevideo, Uruguay, the photographer met several cases of teenagers who became pregnant. Her own mother became pregnant as a teenager, as did her younger sister.

1 - Micaela, 15, with newborn son Franco, in Montevideo, Uruguay

2 - Erika Almeira, 15, with her son Razhell, 1 year, in Quito, Ecuador

Gloria, 13, with her 10-month-old son in Oaxaca, Mexico

“I decided to start this project in Uruguay because it was my home country, where I know these issues very well, ” he said in a statement published on TED Fellows. Since then, the photographer has toured several regions of Latin America, which is the only place in the world where teenage pregnancy rates continue to rise.

His images are striking and show us the faces of often frightened, sad, tired, subdued teenagers. These are people who, from an early age, seem to accept a not very promising destiny. For them, motherhood was not a choice but a consequence of factors such as discrimination, sexual abuse and lack of access to education and prevention measures.

“Usually, teenage pregnancy is related to poverty in Latin America. It is gender violence in a broader sense. You have economic, psychological and physical violence against Latin American girls, "said the photographer.

4 - Taiana, 16 years old, with her 1 year old son. She is the third daughter of seven brothers, and her mother was also a teenage mother. Your dream is to go back to study and do medicine. Taiana lives in Complexo do Alemão, in Rio de Janeiro

5 - Angelica, 16, with her 4 month old daughter. She lives in Quito, Ecuador

6 - Daniela, 15 years old, with her 1 year old son. She is also from Quito, Ecuador

7 - Katherine, 15, with her son. She is from Quito, Ecuador

Once they become mothers, these girls can hardly change their scenery, hardly ever go back to school and suffer to get a job. Rodriguez also explains that children born in this environment tend to become young people who see early motherhood as a natural way of life, after all almost all girls in the neighborhoods where they live, is the standard behavior.

Now Rodriguez's idea is to create a virtual platform that contains photos, videos, testimonials, and free learning materials to raise awareness of the problem and spread contraception. With education, the photographer hopes to change this culture of early motherhood.

“I know photography is a very powerful tool for connecting with young people, because all teenagers have a cell phone, they have photos with them, and they have a stronger visual culture than before. I would like more girls to have children only when they choose, perhaps after becoming doctors, teachers and scientists, ”he said.