Teenage pregnancy can cause a disruption in the lives of many girls and could lead to them not completing school. Between April 2020 and March 2021, 23 226 teenage pregnancies were reported in Gauteng. The report also revealed that girls between the ages of 10 and 14 gave birth to 934 babies.
The Department of Health spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says that Kwa-Zulu Natal reported around 35 000 pregnancies while Mpumalanga reported around 15 000. Recent reports have also found that an average of 1300 new cases of HIV is reported among adolescent girls every week. The report also found that 15.1% of all schoolgirls experience sexual violence at school.
The information gathered for the report is compiled using a number of different sources. These include data collected from the Department of Health, Department of Social development, the World Health Organisation and the household survey.
The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga said the recent teenage pregnancy figures will result in the department intensifying its Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE).
Mhlanga says it’s not enough to simply march against teenage pregnancy and have the department construct age-appropriate material in its comprehensive sexuality education. He says this CSE has unfortunatly been opposed by various stakeholders.
“Some people and organisations who actually marched to the department to say you can’t talk to our children about sex and sexuality even though the aim of this particular program is to empower young children so that they know how to navigate these complex social issues” added Mhlanga
Mhlanga says that young women of this age deserve to grow up without disruptions to their lives. He says that these disruptions include sexual abuse, rape, gender-based violence which could lead to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
He says the only way the department can provide support for children is when schools around South Africa are open. Some of the support mechanisms include the school nutrition program as well as psychological support services.
Mhlanga the response to all these social ills has to be a collaboration between the authorities as well as individuals families and different organizations that work in the sector.