Teen pregnancy crisis raises questions around social, justice policies - experts

Recently, the Gauteng Health Department revealed that more than 23,000 girls and teenagers were impregnated between April 2020 and March 2021. From these, 934 babies were delivered by girls between the ages of 10 and 14.

Experts are concerned that girls as young as 10-years-old are being impregnated and said that this was unlawful and must be thoroughly investigated. Picture: Pexels.com

JOHANNESBURG - Experts said that South Africa's teenage pregnancy crisis had brought into question the country's social and criminal justice policies and their efficacy to deal appropriately with child abuse cases.

Recently, the Gauteng Health Department revealed that more than 23,000 girls and teenagers were impregnated between April 2020 and March 2021. From these, 934 babies were delivered by girls between the ages of 10 and 14. There are no details given about who impregnated the girls.

Experts are concerned that girls as young as 10-years-old are being impregnated and said that this was unlawful and must be thoroughly investigated.

Researcher at the University of Johannesburg Lisa Vetten said: “The 934 pregnancies that we've seen between girls that are reported to be between 10 and 14 are extremely concerning because what has happened is certainly does fall within a crime.”

She also said she was worried whether the Health Department had sensitive policies to deal with girls who fall pregnant while ensuring that their rights are protected.

“Don’t harm young woman being investigated but ensure that if there’s a crime, the next action follows,” she added.

Dr Shaheda Omar from the Teddy Bear Clinic said that in most cases, under-aged girls were pressured.

“Because this is manipulation, emotional ransom,” she said.

Experts said that government needed to ensure that in all circumstances, young mothers and their children were supported to ensure they were not disadvantaged for the rest of their lives.

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