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By Lunga Simelane

Journalist


‘Teen moms protect the fathers’ as births on Xmas Day soar

While the joy of Christmas filled the air, an unsettling reality emerged with 145 teenagers giving birth on that day.


While it was possible some of the 145 teenagers who gave birth on Christmas Day were impregnated during sexual abuse and rape, some were keeping the identity of their possible abuser a secret.

Mothers do not reveal who impregnated them

Department of health spokesperson Foster Mohale said it was “unfortunate mothers do not reveal who impregnated them”.

“Parents should openly discuss sex education with their girl and boy children to prevent this challenge,” he said.

On Christmas Day, 1 708 babies were born in South Africa, with 840 baby boys and 868 baby girls.

145 teenagers known who gave birth

Of concern was that 145 teenagers are known to have given birth, the youngest being a 15 year old from Limpopo.

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Mohale called on society to collaborate with the government on its sexual and productive health awareness campaign, meant to empower young people to make use of health services, especially family planning and contraception in order to prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

“This also tells us there is a high possibility of STI transmission and this may contribute to high rates of HIV infections among young people,” said Mohale.

Campaign to get teenagers to understand the pitfalls of falling pregnant

Health expert and private practitioner Dr Angelique Coetzee said it was a matter of concern and there should be a campaign to get teenagers to understand the pitfalls of falling pregnant while still young.

Coetzee said it was difficult for a young person to raise a child in the financial circumstances many were in.

“It brings the question as to what is happening around family planning? Do these young women have proper access to family planning and how many of the pregnancies are by blessers, who are luring teenagers with money, buying them because of these poor financial circumstances.’

ALSO READ: Four provinces welcome Christmas babies amid concern over teenage pregnancy

“It is easy to do a honey pot and say, ‘I’m going to give you money if you come with me’, but that also brings to mind all the venereal diseases one can contract,” she said. “Especially if they are young, they do not understand the impact of these diseases.”

Society is failing

Coetzee said society was failing and there was a breakdown of family norms and values.

“We were extremely concerned about the number of young teenage pregnancies during the Covid pandemic. But now there’s no Covid and yet we still have this number of young teenagers falling pregnant,” she said.

Coetzee said sexual abuse could also be one of the causes, but it was not the main reason for the high number of teenage pregnancies.

“Maybe during Covid it could have been the reason because you were locked in a house or a place. But currently that is not one of the main reasons.

ALSO READ: Almost 8 000 sign petition to have doctors and midwives report underage pregnancies to police

“I would rather go for blessers, and lack of understanding, poor education and the breakdown of family norms,” she said.

“And if they are younger than 16, then it is rape. And that should be a criminal offense.

“But now the teenage mother, if she’s aware of this, will not reveal the name of the father because then it becomes then a court case. So, they do this to protect their partners. Under a certain age, they don’t reveal the names.”

The role of healthcare workers

Coetzee added it was important there was emphasis on what the role of healthcare workers was in supporting these types of cases.

“If I, the doctor, know exactly who the father is and if you are under the age of 16, I am obliged to alert the police because it should not happen – especially in cases of individuals who are underage. We should take responsibility as well,” she said.

ALSO READ: Slight drop in children as young as 10 giving birth, but terminations are on the rise

Read more on these topics

babies pregnancy Rape sexual abuse Teenage pregnancy

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