How rife is teenage pregnancy in South Africa?

African countries have recorded a spike in cases of teenage pregnancy, especially during the lockdown. Kenya reported 4 000 cases of school-going girls that are currently pregnant since the pandemic started. 

South Africa has not recently released any new statistics on teenage pregnancy, but the internet is telling us otherwise. 

“How to get rid of pregnancy without parents knowing” has become a trending topic on Google in SA. I’m assuming this is searched by teenagers because the possibility of a sensible adult inputting this onto Google is slim. 

When one searches ‘pregnancy’, the top trending topics are:

  • Termination of pregnancy pills at clicks
  • How to terminate 4 weeks of pregnancy
  • Consequences of teenage pregnancy
  • Termination of pregnancy

Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) in South Africa

When you search Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) in South Africa, the top results are from an anti-CSE organisation, arguing that the “CSE is a harmful Western- and UN-driven agenda that seeks to change South African gender and sexual norms under the guise of HIV and teen pregnancy prevention“.

South Africa is the top country experiencing the highest rate of HIV prevalence to date. Number one in the world. 

So, clearly, there is something we are missing, and a clear gap that needs to be bridged. One would assume that education is a good start, and the earlier we start learning, the more likely it is that we’ll make sensible sexual decisions. 

Like teenagers not having unprotected sex, for example. 

ALSO SEE: How to encourage a safe space to talk about sex with your children

Yes, the curriculum might go against our cultural and religious values, where abstinence is held high. But we also cannot ignore the fact that the very people who are taught not to engage in sexual activities prior to marriage are doing so either way. 

Anti-CSE organisations go on to argue that the curriculum will subsequently ‘promote’ abortion. 

I cannot be the only person that has walked around any populated area in Johannesburg, to see stickers on the wall, advertising backroom terminations. So, clearly, there is already an existing market for it, with or without the implementation of the curriculum. 

Pregnancy termination is a legal act in SA, but girls and women still prefer backroom terminations due to its discretion. 

If girls and women are not provided with safe options to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, they choose an alternative that may lead to their death. 

It literally is a life and death situation. 

Now, more than ever, is the time for parents to have open and honest conversations with their children about sexual health. Shying away from the topic may result in kids shying away from telling us that they’re pregnant and need a way out. 

If we can’t do it, let the schools teach them about sexual health. 

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