Shanghai officials are calling for improved sex education for the city's growing migrant population after a recent survey suggested many migrants living in Shanghai have little understanding of contraception and sexual diseases.
In order to better understand how much sex education migrant workers in Shanghai had already received and what health services they require, local health officials conducted a large-scale survey of 1,092 unmarried migrants between the ages of 15 and 24 in Changning District from July to December last year.
"Because of their poor educational background, migrant people are more lenient about and open to sex, but their understanding of condoms is very limited," said Dr Lou Chaohua of the Shanghai Institute of Family Planning Technical Instruction, which conducted the survey.
"Many of the respondents have basic knowledge about AIDS and sexually transmitted disease, but their understanding of reproductive health and contraception seems to be very poor."
Under 35 percent of male respondents and nearly 13 percent of women surveyed said they are sexually active. However, over 47 percent of the sexually active women said they have gotten pregnant at least once and didn't use contraceptives.
The survey suggests about 90 percent of those pregnancies were terminated by abortions since "they don't want to have a baby when they are unmarried," said Lou.
She said it is tough to compare the survey results with similar research on local women as researchers used different age groups and methods, but the results indicate a larger number of migrants are sexually active before marriage than locals, leading to a greater number of unwanted pregnancies.
Local hospitals say they have received a growing number of migrant women seeking abortions over the last two years, but refuse to give out exact figures.
"The number of abortions performed on unmarried women is rising quickly. Since we don't require identify cards to protect patients' privacy, it is very easy to apply for the surgery," said Chen Daning, a spokeswoman for the Shanghai International Peace Maternity and Child Health Hospital.
Lou noted the survey shows the need for better sex education for local young migrant population in order to lower the pregnancy and abortion rates among unmarried women as well as to prevent any possible spread of sexual diseases.
At present, local family planning officials have already created a tracking system for the migrant population and provided sex education by giving lectures and providing contraceptives free of charge.
(eastday.com February 10, 2004)