중앙데일리

Rights commission rules for pregnant schoolgirls

“그래, 아기 낳고도 학교 다닐 수 있어” 배 속 아이 심장소리가 내게 힘을 줬다

Mar 17,2010
Kim Su-hyeon with her baby yesterday. Thanks to the human rights commission’s recommendation, Kim was able to graduate from high school and advance to college this year. By Kim Seong-ryong
The National Human Rights Commission said yesterday that any school that forces a student to drop out because she is pregnant is being discriminatory and infringing on her right to an education.

The announcement follows the case of Kim Su-hyeon, 19, a teenager who was forced to drop out during her senior year of high school last year because of a pregnancy.

Though many Western countries allow pregnant high school students to complete their educations, Kim’s case is the first of its kind in Korea to be decided by the commission.

Kim agreed to reveal her real name to the JoongAng Ilbo, commenting that she hoped her case would help other teenage mothers who have been forced to end their studies.

Last April, Kim, who attended Ganghwa Girls High School in Incheon, took a pregnancy test.

The result was devastating.

“I held on to the test kit and just wept,” she recalled. “Everything went black.”

The father: Kim’s boyfriend, Choi Seong-ho, 25 years old at the time.

After some discussion with Choi, Kim decided to have the child but also continue with her high school education. But when teachers learned of the situation, they told Kim to bring her parents to school because she needed to drop out or go to another school. They told Kim that school regulations state that any student who disrupts the moral code of the school with an “unwholesome relationship” is subject to expulsion.

The next day, Kim’s mother, Yang Gyeong-ae, 47, got on her knees and pleaded with Kim’s main teacher, saying that if her daughter was expelled, she would not be able to enroll again at a high school or even take a high school equivalency test.

Kim’s teachers, however, were adamant. She had to leave. They even threatened to report Kim’s boyfriend to police for having sexual relations with a minor.

So Kim dropped out, and Yang brought the case to the attention of the commission. Soon, the commission requested that the school take Kim back. After the school refused, the principal got a warning letter from the regional education office. The school finally relented and Kim was able to re-enroll in July and received her diploma.

Kim is far from being alone as a teenage mother. Data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service shows that there were around 3,300 teenage births in 2008. According to a survey by the Korea’s human rights commission, 87.6 percent of teenage moms continued their educations. But one-third dropped out.

Korean regulations toward pregnant teenagers have been comparatively nonexistent when looking at other developed countries. In the U.S., a law banning the expulsion of pregnant schoolgirls was passed in 1972. In Britain, it is mandatory for a pregnant teenager younger than 16 to go to school. For those mothers, child care is provided by the state.

In Germany, unwed mothers are allowed to take pregnancy leave, in which their right to be educated at school is protected.

“Forcing a student to drop out is clear discrimination and goes against the student’s right to have an education,” an official at the human rights commission said. “If a teenager stops her education because she is pregnant, there is a high possibility she might not find a job and become entangled in a vicious cycle of poverty.”

Last December, Kim gave birth to a daughter, Si-eun, and is now a student in the tax and accounting department at Kimpo College. “My dream, upon hearing the baby’s heartbeat, became a reality. My goal now is to get a scholarship,” Kim said.

Si-eun is 100 days old today.


By Koo Hui-lyung, Cho Jae-eun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]
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고교의 자퇴 강요와 싸우며 졸업 … 미혼모 김수현양


예정일이 지났는데 생리가 시작되지 않았다. 몸 상태도 이상했다. 소화가 안 되고 화장실을 자주 드나들었다. 설마 하는 마음에 만난 지 9개월 된 남자친구의 집에서 임신 테스트를 했다. 결과를 본 강화여고 3학년 김수현(당시 18세)양은 “눈앞이 캄캄했다. 진단 키트를 붙들고 눈물만 줄줄 흘렸다.”

2009년 4월 4일 토요일이었다. 한참을 울던 수현양은 남자친구 최호성(당시 25세)씨와 함께 집 근처 마니산에 올랐다. 9개월째 사귀고 있던 남자친구는 “낳아서 키우자”고 했다. 하지만 수현양은 “나 대학 가야 하는데”란 생각이 먼저 들었다. 그에겐 세무공무원이 되겠다는 꿈이 있었다. 어쩔 수 없이 낙태를 떠올렸다. 그런데 이상했다. 자신도 모르게 발걸음이 조심스러워졌다. 체해도 약을 먹지 않았다. 몸 안의 아기에게 해로울 것 같았다. 생각과 달리 몸은 이미 엄마처럼 행동하고 있었다.

일주일 뒤인 11일 남자친구와 함께 병원을 찾아 6주 된 아기의 심장 소리를 들었다. 그 소리가 수현양에게 말처럼 들렸다. “아기도 낳을 수 있고, 공부도 할 수 있다. 엄마도 될 수 있고, 대학생도 될 수 있다.” 그 순간 수현양은 아기를 낳기로 결심했다.

13일 체기를 느낀 수현양은 양호실에 들러 ‘까스활명수’를 달라고 했다. 임신을 해도 활명수는 먹을 수 있다는 말을 들은 적이 있었다. 양호교사는 다른 알약을 내밀었다. “선생님, 저 그 약은 못 먹어요.” 이상하다고 느낀 교사가 이유를 캐물었다. 망설이던 그는 임신 사실을 털어놨다. 선생님의 도움을 받을 수 있을 거라고 믿었다.
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