South Africa: 26,515 Teenagers Pregnant in Eight Months

Nonprofits and community leaders in South Africa have asked the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to tighten statutory rape laws.

Development Diaries reports that the call was made as KwaZulu-Natal announced that it had recorded 26,515 pregnancies of young girls aged ten and 19 in eight months.

According to a community leader in Soweto, Ntokozo Khumalo, after years of promoting sex education to teenagers, she has realised that the biggest problem, particularly in the poor communities, was poverty and a lack of education.

Data from World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that South Africa has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy globally, with nearly one in four girls falling pregnant before turning 20 years old.

‘We really cannot have ten and 13-year-olds becoming mothers. We are failing these girls as a collective society’, she said.

‘Whether parents, the department of health and schools, or any ordinary adult in the community, we have the responsibility to protect and preserve young girls until they are at the right age to make their own choices’.

Amdanda Seleka from Thuso-Pele, a nonprofit in Soweto, said she lived in a township and could see what young girls go through daily.

‘Older men have made it a habit to prey on young girls in South Africa, and no one wants to say it’, said Seleka.

She mentioned that the issue of teenage pregnancy had been sugarcoated to fit the loose behaviour of older men who have shown no remorse or shame.

Most of these young girls are from the very vulnerable groups. Some are from child-headed households where there is no adult and a stable income.

For her part, a gender activist with Not In My Name, Themba Masango, called for the arrest of any man having sexual intercourse with a minor.

‘We are of the view that any child that has been impregnated under the age of 16 is statutory rape by law’, she said.

‘That child has been raped and nurses should call the police when a minor comes to give birth and make sure that they charge and arrest these old men who are misusing young children’.

The age of consent in South Africa is 16 years old. This is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity.

Therefore, South Africa’s statutory rape law is violated when an individual has consensual sexual contact with a person under the age of 16.

The aforementioned NPA has the constitutional mandate to institute and conduct criminal proceedings against suspected violators.

Development Diaries therefore calls on the NPA and the police in South Africa to ensure the proper enforcement of the country’s Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007.

The law, which is also known as the Sexual Offences Amendment Act (SOAA), provides for the protection of victims, especially women, children and people living with mental disabilities that have been raped or have experienced sexual crimes.

Photo source: Galo Images

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