தாய்லாந்தில் கற்பமாய் இருக்கும் பெண்கள் தொடர்ந்து பள்ளியில் படிக்க அரசு ஊக்கம்
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Controversial draft law on pregnant students being allowed maternal leave, later study draws concern
BANGKOK: -- A draft law that intends to give pregnant students the legal right to take maternal leave and continue their studies after giving birth, is now attracting much controversy.
While a survey on www.ilaw.or.th showed most respondents supported the draft law, prominent child-rights activist Wallop Tangkananurak said he was concerned the legislation would indirectly endorse school-age pregnancies.
"I agree that schools should not fire students just for being pregnant. However, having a clear law on the issue may indirectly convince youth that it is okay to get pregnant during their school years," Wallop said in www.gotoknow.org.
He said he planned to raise the issue at the National Children Protection Committee meeting soon. He explained that although it was good to give youth more freedom, it could be better to rely on subtle measures.
Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said there was much discussion about Article 12 in the draft, over whether directors of educational institutions with pregnant female students should allow the women to continue studying during their pregnancy and after giving birth.
Jurin said many prominent public health officers worried the law would encourage teen pregnancy. Others said it would open the way for pregnant students to have both maternal leave and continue their studies after giving birth, instead of losing their positions.
Jurin said he was not sure that firing pregnant students was beneficial - their numbers had not decreased during the past few years.
The Department of Health records showed that each year in Thailand, 10,000 students under 15 years of age become pregnant. Of 800,000 women who get pregnant annually, 20 per cent are under 20 years.
Reproductive Health Division chief Dr Kittipong Saejeng, secretary of a subcommittee to develop reproductive health law and regulation, said the subcommittee would organise a meeting to revise this draft. After that the subcommittee would hold public hearings for two months before making submissions to the National Reproductive Health Committee, chaired by the Public Health Minister, and then to Cabinet.
Jurin said the law would protect people's reproductive health rights. It would also cover the medical services of all state and private medical units and oblige them to provide consultation and reproductive health services.
The law will not allow any individual or organisation to block maternal leave, will encourage breastfeeding and safeguard against sexual harassment.
He said it would encourage support for pregnant women, those with unwanted pregnancies and those who were not in a position to take care of their kids.
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