The Basic Education Department is working on policies aimed at reducing child pregnancies.
The Department’s Chief Director of Care and Support Coceka Nogoduka has outlined the planned policies at the plenary meeting of the South African National Aids Council (SANAC) in Durban.
This after comes after statistics released earlier this month that over 34 000 teenagers gave birth last year, of whom 688 were aged under ten.
The Department’s aim is to arm teenagers with knowledge through sex education as part of the Life Orientation syllabus. This is to ensure that the teenagers are able to continue their education while the Department provides a safe environment for them at school.
Nogoduka has asked SANAC’s technical task teams to help to align the policy to legal definitions of the age of consent.
“Because the age of consent becomes quite a challenge in providing some of the services. If you look at the Children’s Act and DSD, you are a child until you are 18 years old. But if you look at what DoJ is saying around the age of consent of sex, you are able to consent for sex between the ages of 12 and 15 as long as you are having sex with a same-age mate. But further goes on and says in that age group you may consent for sex with a mate that is 2 years older than you.”
Nogoduka says there has been concern about the increase in the number of teenage pregnancies for a number of years now. She says there are more than 540 000 girls and young women living with HIV, the majority of whom are of school-going age.
“In terms of the adolescent girls’ statistics on teenage pregnancy, we’ve got a rate of more than 30 percent of adolescent girls getting pregnant each year. This is the Department of Health statistics on the actual deliveries. And the rate of deliveries for adolescent girls ages 10 to 14 years of age, overall in South Africa we’ve got a rate of 13,6 percent. And 6 of the 9 provinces have a rate of deliveries of adolescent girls and young women above the national pregnancy, which is quite a concern.”
Deputy President David Mabuza, in his capacity as the chairperson of the SA National Aids Council (SANAC), earlier today engaged with traditional leaders and interfaith leaders on their active participation in the response to HIV/AIDS, TB, STIs, and the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
Mabuza also condemned the high prevalence of teenage pregnancies in South Africa as a blight on society.
Mabuza has told the SANAC plenary that a girl of 10 years or younger becoming pregnant, is a crime and those responsible should face the full might of the law.
Mabuza engages with traditional, interfaith leaders: