Gauteng's teenage pregnancy stats place focus on addressing statutory rape

Recently, the Gauteng Health Department revealed a that 23,226 young girls fell pregnant between April 2020 and March 2021.

FILE: The DA has also called on the affected government departments to ensure that prevention and other educational campaigns are prioritised at schools. Picture: Pixabay.com.

JOHANNESBURG - The country's teenage pregnancy crisis has once again given rise to calls for proper investigations and for those responsible for sexual abuse to be arrested.

Recently, the Gauteng Department of Health revealed that 23,226 young girls fell pregnant between April 2020 and March 2021.

From these, 934 babies were delivered by girls between the ages of 10 and 14.

It was a question from the Democratic Alliance in the Gauteng legislature that led to this shocking revelation.

The department disclosed in a written reply that more than 23,000 teenagers - some of them underage and barely halfway through school - fell pregnant within a year.

READ: Gauteng reported 23,000 teen pregnancies between April 2020 and March 2021 - DA

While these figures focus on the province, the crisis is widespread and affects many communities around the country.

Researcher at the University of Johannesburg Lisa Vetten on Tuesday said it was important to highlight that the pregnancies of girls below the age of 16 are a crime.

She said these must be thoroughly investigated: “What are the circumstances of those girls? How did they fall pregnant? Was it rape? If so, then the necessary criminal action needs to follow.”

Meanwhile, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he was concerned by the latest figures.

“I am really saddened by the number of learners that are pregnant. I must be honest, it is something that touched me. Those numbers are huge and are shocking, we can’t tolerate that in our province.”

He's planning to set up an urgent meeting with his counterparts in the health and community safety portfolios to discuss this predicament.

The DA has also called on the affected government departments to ensure that prevention and other educational campaigns are prioritised at schools.

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