By Daniel Infante Tuaño
SPAIN – A local midwife is alarmed by the high cases of abortion among Filipina youth in Barcelona.
Her preoccupations were reflected in a research entitled “La Comunidad Silenciosa, Migraciones Filipinas y Capital Social en El Raval,” conducted by Barcelona-based medical anthropologist Dr. Eva Maria Marxen.
This research on Filipino migrants in Raval, a neighborhood in Barcelona where there is a large concentration of Filipino migrants, identified the strengths as well as the challenges facing one of the most organized migrant communities in Barcelona.
Marxen identified the health problems based on the interviews she had with the local health center’s midwife.
“There are a lot of cases of abortion. She very often found these adolescents as she herself said very much alone or lonely, their parents would really work, work a lot, and don’t have really somebody in order to talk about sex education. There’s a lot of mythmaking of how to get pregnant or not to get,” she said.
ABS-CBN Europe was able to interview the midwife Silvia Vera.
Vera said that 80 percent of the patients of the health center are Filipinos, but still, she considered the percentage of Filipina who aborted, from 30-35 percent, “escandaloso”.
They were very young, from 14 to 18 years old and she even had cases of 12 years of age.
Vera further said that some Filipinas wanted to abort when they were in their 6th month lest their families, “who are very Catholic, very Christian” found out their pregnancies.
However, such is prohibited under Spanish law, she said, as abortion is only allowed until 22nd week of pregnancy.
Vera stressed that these teens should have not resorted to abortion if only they had used contraceptives or if they had been given more quality time and properly guided by their parents.
Filipino community leader and Centro Filipino-Tuluyan San Benito director Paulita Astillero was equally alarmed with the said research and acknowledged the parents’ sacrifices in raising their children in Barcelona.
“Matagal na ako rito sa community ng Barcelona. Kilala ko ang karamihan ng mga magulang na talaga namang ginawa ang kanilang lahat ng energy, lahat ng panahon nila para mabigyan ng kaligayahan ang kanilang mga anak. Pero, masabi nating mayroon pang ibang factors na I think nagco-contribute din na maganap ang mga pangyayaring yan na hindi naman siguro inaasahan ng mga magulang.”
“They don’t fight for their rights!”
Vera considered Filipinas very hardworking and nice persons but she criticized their attitude towards reproductive health and health in general.
She complained that they did not give time to their medical consultations or sometimes they arrived really late.
Marxen further said in an interview that “Filipina pregnant women… very often do not get the permission from their employers to see a physician during pregnancy.”
Vera said in Spanish, “Filipinas, although they have working permit, are submissive. They don’t fight for their rights.”
Vera insisted that pregnant women have the right to regular check-up and it is the obligation of their employers to give them free time to go to the doctor.
“If they (employers) can take their pets to veterinarians, why can’t they let their maids go to the doctor?” Vera said in Spanish.
Not having a regular check-up during pregnancies can lead to another common problem in the Filipino community: cases of obesity and hypertension among newborn babies.
Despite her criticisms, midwife Vera reminded Filipinos, whom she admires and cares for, the importance of prevention and fighting for one’s right to health care. ABS-CBNnews.com
Watch the related TV report in Filipino as aired on Balitang Europe: