Teenage pregnancy in South Africa
While there was a decrease in teenage pregnancies in South Africa’s Western province from 2006-2009, the number is now on the rise. According to recent studies, 46 000 school students were pregnant nationwide in 2012.
The reasons herefore are complex. Poverty and society’s traditional ways of thinking when it comes to the role of women play a big role. Girls are brought up in a context where the role of a woman is perceived as less valuable than that of a man – both at home and at work. This give them little chance to lead a better and different life than their mothers.
According to local organizations in the area where we work, this may result in a feeling of hopelessness in relation to future opportunities and education. Some deliberately choose motherhood at an early age in an attempt to prove their worth and create a purpose in life.
The majority of teenage mothers in the Western province live in areas marked by poverty, crime, unemployment and serious alcohol abuse.
Teenage motherhood is therefore mainly a problem in the poorest areas and in these areas girls as young as 12 years of age become pregnant.
Pregnancy among vulnerable teenage girls in South Africa is, unfortunately, often a result of gender-based violence and sexual abuse (WHO). Between 28 and 30 percent of young teenagers report that their first sexual experience was forced.
At the same time the risk of becoming infected with HIV or other STDs also increases.