'Blame sugar daddies'

Pumza Fihlani

Pumza Fihlani

The Young Communist League says "sugar daddies" are partly to blame for the high teenage pregnancy rate in the country.

This comes in the wake of a report in yesterday's Sowetan about a school in Soweto where, last year alone, 71 girls fell pregnant.

YCL spokesman Castro Ngobese said yesterday that older men often exploit schoolgirls by giving them luxuries in exchange for sex.

"We are conscious of the exploitation of pupils by older men in exchange for sex," Ngobese said.

"Young people are more vulnerable in their teenage years than at any stage in their lives.

"They have a great need to be accepted, so in order to fit in they accept the advances of older men because of what they promise."

The YCL believes teenage pregnancy could cripple our education system if it is not hastily dealt with.

They believe the Department of Education should be at the forefront of the fight.

Ngobese said more needed to be done to educate pupils about the consequences of unprotected sex, including pregnancy and contracting sexually transmitted infections such as HIV.

Ngobese also said that more should be said to male pupils about the benefits of waiting until they are more mature or married before having sex.

He said that the responsibility of safe sex should not only fall on the girls' shoulders.

"Boy pupils also need take responsibility for practicing safe sex. It shouldn't just be the responsibility of the girl to use contraceptives and to suggest the use of condoms.

"It should be a partnership between the two.

"Our boy pupils need to be taught to guard our sisters' futures by being responsible."

Thulasizwe Nxesi, South African Democratic Teachers' Union secretary-general, earlier told Sowetan that it was impractical to expect teachers to cope with the situation.

Sadtu has also called for clear guidelines to be set on how to deal with the problem.

But Gauteng education spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said teenage pregnancy was not a departmental problem, but rather a societal problem.

Statistics South Africa shows that more than 72000 pupils dropped out of school between 2005 and last year because of pregnancy.