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Young women too have said the policy must be changed."Young people should have access to contraception because young people are the most affected and have the biggest problems if they fall pregnant," 19-year-old Elfia Sarmento said.
In a country where teenage pregnancy rates are already high, women's groups are alarmed at the potential impact if the policy is adopted.
The United Nations has lobbied the new Government to abandon the policy.
It said banning contraceptives for unmarried women would contravene basic human rights.
And teenage pregnancy rates mean many children are born to a mother who herself is still an adolescent."About one out of five girls are married actually before the age of 18.
They're marrying young and 50 per cent of them already have a child by the time they're 20," said John Pile, who heads the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) in Dili."Frequently it's pregnancy followed by marriage and then the child.
The small plane descends over Savu Savu Bay, crosses a peninsula and the township of Savu Savu.
A lone cow grazes on the fringes of the short runway.They will stay at home, they will take care of their children.And they will do domestic work."The report, jointly produced by Plan and the UNFPA, identified teenage pregnancy rates as a major contributor to maternal death, infant mortality and malnutrition."Complications linked to pregnancy and childbirth comprise the second cause of death for 15 to 19-year-old girls globally," it said."In addition, the mortality rate for children born to teenage girls is much higher, with babies more likely to have a low birth weight, and facing a greater risk of malnourishment and underdevelopment."These results are also reflected in data from Timor-Leste, which shows that teenage mothers aged 15 to 19 years die nearly twice as much as mothers aged 20 to 24 years." Mr Pile said cultural attitudes in East Timor made it difficult for girls to continue their education if they fall pregnant."Even though there's a policy to have them continue schooling, frequently they're pulled out of school — either by their family or frequently the schools themselves feel they're protecting the girl by not exposing her to the school environment where she might be ostracised for falling pregnant," Mr Pile said."So the impact is both: girls are getting pregnant and it limits their ability to continue their education."Attitudes towards dating also make it difficult for girls to control their sexuality."In East Timor there is no culture of dating," he said."There is not a safe environment for adolescent boys and girls to develop friendships — platonic or romantic — so if you become friends it's frequently perceived that it has to be romantic, and pressured into a setting of making it revolve around sexuality. You see women and girls frequently talked into having sex with their partner, as in 'if you truly love me you should be able to show it'."And often it's not so much coercion, but [women] accept that because they also perceive that's their future.Teenage girls in East Timor have a one-in-four chance of giving birth by the time they are 19.The devoutly Catholic country has one of the highest fertility rates in the world at 5.6 — meaning the average Timorese woman will have between five and six children.A small hand-painted sign states simply, ‘Savu Savu’. [caption id="attachment_2095" align="alignnone" width="362"] Savu Savu airport terminal buidling.[/caption] The two pilots help unload the cargo.