Girls don't belong in maternity wards

Teenage pregnancy remains a serious social and health problem in SA.
Teenage pregnancy remains a serious social and health problem in SA.
Image: 123RF

In news that definitely ruffled feathers, ensured the gnashing of teeth and left the whole country with egg on its face, the Gauteng department of health recorded more than 23,000 teenage pregnancies between April 2020 and March 2021, with 934 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 also part of these statistics.

To say this smacks in the face of the country’s future and development would be an understatement, as it goes beyond exposing how morally bad things have got in our country. Mind you, the number is for Gauteng only, and if it is already this sky-high, what will happen when we fully consolidate the numbers from other provinces as well?

Young girls who are supposed to be the future of this country are now frequenting maternity wards more than the classroom. Are we failing as parents? Perhaps. For us to prevail, the focus should be on addressing this issue rather than pointing fingers.

I think the root cause of teenage pregnancy is the disregard and neglect of parental duties by society at large. Every day we see girls having relationships with older men and we keep quiet as community members when we should openly condemn the act.

Some parents continue to be silent when their daughters spend more time outside the classroom just because they bring groceries and money home. While some of these teenage girls are impregnated by their peers, we can’t overlook the fact that there are heartless men out there who take advantage of them, using their financial muscle.

Community leaders, faith-based organisations, schools and other stakeholders must come together to educate young girls about the dangers of having sex at a young age. Where a man has had sex with a minor, families must not discuss and resolve the issue among themselves but rather involve law-enforcement officers as this is statutory rape.

I also urge men to lead by example and never date these young girls as their acts do more harm than good. Do not chain the future of the vulnerable. Let us all come together to end this societal scourge.

Malphia Honwane, Gottenburg eManyeleti


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