A recent report found that 23 226 teenage pregnancies were reported in Gauteng between April 2020 and March 2021. Even more concerning, girls between the ages of 10 and 14 gave birth to 934 babies during this period. This has raised concern among various roleplayers in South Africa
These revelations came after Gauteng Minister of Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi answered questions raised by Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Gauteng Legislature. It was then revealed that more than 23 00 pregnancies were recorded in the province over a period of 12 months. The MEC also revealed that 2 976 girls between the ages of 10 and 19 chose to terminate their pregnancies.
Parliament’s Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) expressed their concern with the current situation as the age for consent in South Africa is 17 years old. The MPWC warned that “10 years old is definitely not the age” in response to the recent findings. “These numbers were released during Women’s Month, what does it mean about our young women and girl-children? I want to see all the perpetrators, be it educators or anyone else, behind bars. I call on the authorities to clearly state how many cases have been opened that relate to teenage pregnancies,” added MPWC Chairperson Nkhensani Kate Bilankulu.
Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi noted his concern calling the situation in Gauteng ‘unacceptable’. He added “I am making contact with the MEC’s of Health and Safety and Security regarding the pregnancies”.
The DA is calling for the Department of Health, Depart of Education and Department of Social Development to ramp up their campaigns to prevent and lower teenage pregnancy in South Africa. DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Social Development Refiloe Nt’sekhe said “if you look at the 23 000 teenages falling pregant, their futures are literally gutted”.
Nt’sekhe argued that the cancelation of extramural activities could have played a role in these figures. She added “all these [extramural activities] play a big role in ensuring that our children are engaged in positive things that are constructive, instead of finding themselves defaulting to sex as an activity to keep themselves busy”
Nt’sekhe added that all Campaigns about the issues regarding teenage pregnancies should also include the education of “all males” who are impregnating the girls. She said “you know it's not just boys, so when children are not taught whether boys or girls to respect each other's bodies, when this is the kind of teaching that we are asking for it to be intensified whether it's through ngo’s, civil societies, churches as well as through government departments that have access to children, so that children understand the consequences of having sex”.
The recent findings have also shined a light on rape in the country and poses questions as to what law enforcement is doing to prevent this problem.