Mar 22

Addressing Teenage Pregnancy and Child Sexual Abuse

Greetings, Avuxeni, Minjani, Umfekile minjane!

The school holidays are here in Limpopo Province, that means we are winding up our activities to keep the kids busy. Why you might ask? Well, years ago when KTD196 first started, I asked a group of girls, “Why do you think teenage pregnancy levels are so high in this area?” Their response shocked me. They all said they were bored, sex is something that is free, and it doesn’t cost any money.

What an eye opener! Of course for kids it is not just that but the consequences on their bodies, soul and spirits is enormous, never mind the implications of children having children.

Statistically, South Africa reported that 90,037 girls in SA aged 10 to 19 gave birth from March 2021 to April 2022. The Department of Basic Education reported that 190 learners in grades 3‚ 4 and 5 fell pregnant between 2014 and 2016. That means that these girls were between nine and 11 years of age.

A report released last week by Statistics South Africa, Crime Against Children, found that rape was the most prevalent crime reported for children under the age of 17, with the highest incidence in KwaZulu-Natal.

Think about that for a minute..

Of all the horrible crimes (housebreaking, car hijackings, etc) that affect children in our country, the one that happens to children — and girls in particular — the most, is rape. The report also found that sexual assault was nearly twice as high among children as it was in the general population.

Again, stop and think for a second. This means that children are targeted — presumably because they are more likely to remain quiet. So nothing happens to the pedophiles (yes, that is what they are), while the children are left with devastating long-term consequences, of which pregnancy is often one.

Legally, the age of consent in South Africa is 16 years. Yet, we rarely see anyone prosecuted for statutory rape.

Compound this problem with a patriarchal society where discredited, ex-president, Mr Zuma recently blamed the victims for “not keeping their legs shut”. Mr Zuma’s response is to point the finger at young girls who have no ownership or power over their own bodies is misdirected and cruel according to the Daily Maverick newspaper.

Zuma insisted that “under African law, when you are a child, you have no right to have a child”. Surely that should also mean that under African law (as in all rights-based legal systems) no man has the right to have sex with a child? Instead, the practice of adult men “blessing” young women with gifts in exchange for sex continues with impunity.

So, in saying all of this, teenage pregnancy has many root causes, parents sometimes are happy or at least turn a blind eye regarding their children having “blessers” because the family benefits! If pregnancy results, the state grants a Child Support Grant to support the baby. Recently it has come to light that South Africa is the 4th highest nation involved in Human Trafficking in the world. The issues are complex.

At KTD196 with approximately 18,000 girls who have come through the program over 21years, we have had 12 pregnancy’s in total. According to STATSSA, 150,000 children under the age of 18yrs became delivered in 2023 in clinics, or hospitals. That is not to mention home births, abortions, miscarriages etc.

So let that sink in, 12 girls pregnant in 21years. You have been a part of that huge difference. Your support has enabled us to educate the girls and boys regarding having a dream and working towards that dream, while providing safe spaces for kids to be kids, plus also our child protection strategies to prevent sexual predators from accessing the kids in our programs. That is amazing when you consider what we are up against.

Thank you for making such a tangible difference in the lives of our children. The work we do has long lasting generational impact, so thank you for partnering with us to make such a huge difference.

Bless you