South Africa’s Health Ministry recently released statistics showing that almost 5-thousand schoolgirls in Johannesburg became pregnant in just one school year.
Health experts in South Africa are scrambling for answers following the report. The report says that teenage pregnancy between the ages of 12 and 19 has reached an all-time high, and education officials, parents and charities are working around the clock to address the problem.
Also, over 100 primary school girls, also became pregnant in the same period. Most come from poverty stricken homes, and are often influenced by their peers, according to the report.
17-year-old Lethlogonolo Mampane fell pregnant while still at school. She says her boyfriend used money and gifts to lure her into sex.
“I felt I have to be independent you know, I want to do things on my own without asking my mother for money, I couldn’t ask my mother for money so I can go and drink with friends, so yeah, money is like the main thing, some girls maybe think it’s love, but really it’s about sex and money, that’s it.”
Unlike many girls in her situation, Mampane continued going to school while pregnant. She says she has learnt her lesson and is now focused on her future.
“Well I went to school, I told myself that people are going to talk, I know they are, because I used to talk, so I told myself that, you know what, you know what you want, and you are going to get what you want, forget what people are saying, it’s not your business, they are here, they are gonna talk, they are gonna do that, and not everyone wants good things for you.”
The Gauteng Department of Health has embarked on a campaign to educate youth on the implications of pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.
The department has deployed more than 30 family planning nurses to local clinics.
Fidel Hadebe is the spokesperson of the department of health.
“It indicates the inability of our programs in terms of one, changing attitudes towards issues of sex and sexuality.”
Hadebe notes that sex is considered ‘cool’ for school children of school age, and another problem is persuading teenagers and children to talk about it to their parents. But Lethlogonolo’s mother is she having a hard time dealing with her daughters pregnancy
“Well, there is no way I can deny this, I didn’t understand why Lethlogonolo did that to me, I mean I talk to her about issues of sex, I wanted her to be married, have kids after marriage, I mean look at me, I have two kids from different fathers, life is tough for me, I am forever fighting with their fathers to pay maintenance for their kids, I have to do anything for my children to eat. I was involved in recycling just so I could support my children, how are we going to survive with an extra mouth to feed?”
Mampane says she has put aside her disappointment and will help her daughter look after the baby so she can finish school. But she hopes other children in the neighborhood can learn from their situation and better understand the reality and responsibilities of being a parent.