Humans rights advocacy group, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), has written an open letter to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. The open letter is with regard to the high number of adolescent pregnancies in South African schools.
Shaatirah Hassim from the LCR Centre says the pregnancy statistics released are alarming. She explains this led the centre to send an open letter to the Department of Basic Education.
She said, “there are so many challenges that learners are facing besides the normal Covid challenges, we have to address teenage pregnancies which are at an alarming rate and we've called on the minister to address this and take it seriously and the department has to look at the rights of girl learners because teenage pregnancy, in turn, leads to learners dropping out of school not returning to school so it's a huge problem”.
Hassim explained that the 10 to 19 years old could constitute statutory rape.
“When we look at the ages of 10 to 14 and 12 to 19 years old, those cases actually constitute rape and sexual assault so we need the department to step in and address this type of issue and whether or not it's actually being investigated and whether the perpetrators are actually being prosecuted,” said Hassim.
Last month it was revealed that 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. In the Western Cape, in the 12 months leading up to June 2021, a total of 314 babies were delivered to girls aged between 10 and 14 years old.
This led Minister Motshekga to announce that the department will intensify the implementation of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in schools around South Africa. She hopes that this will provide young women with empowering information that is age-appropriate.
Below is the list of recommendations made by the Legal Resources Centre: