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How can a child be a mother? Discourse on teenage pregnancy in a Brazilian favela

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Contemporary research reveals the body as a privileged place for social memory and resistance, especially among those people who are politically and economically marginalized. But what might the body signify within the context of teenage pregnancy in conditions of chronic poverty? To explore these issues, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 boys and 17 girls living in a favela in São Paulo, Brazil. In their responses, young people drew a clear distinction between sex and parenthood. If sex sometimes holds negative connotations, maternity and the physical appearance of pregnancy increases social status. Young people's representations of teenage pregnancy do not portray it as a social or health problem. Instead, they understand it as a consequence of the desire to be visible and active in social life. Findings highlight the importance of investigating the relationship between young people's sexuality and the social imaginary, particularly in conditions of social inequality and suffering.
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Keywords: Brazil; Teenage pregnancy; body; discourse; poverty; sexuality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Universidade Paulista, São Paulo, Brazil

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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