Editorial: Act now for teen mothers

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‘Thousands of North West schoolgirls pregnant,” screamed the headline.

It would be a cause for concern if this was in another country.

Probably, there would have been a national outcry, followed by a nation address by a president to condemn such acts.

But this being in our beloved Mzansi, we read the story online and moved on.

No outcry and no one is talking about this problem of girls, as young as 11, having fallen pregnant and some even giving birth, across 24 villages in North West.

In the same news story carried by the SABC online, a 17-year-old girl laments how she gave birth to her baby when she was 15 and now faces multiple problems.

“I don’t have an ID. My child has no birth certificate and we are just living by ourselves with no parents.”

Her story is painful and is not unique. Many girls are made pregnant by men who fail to take responsibility for their actions.

The country has laws that criminalise statutory rape, but the fathers of the children being born to these teenagers are freely roaming the streets with no consequences.

This came just weeks after the country was outraged at the rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana by a Post Office employee in Cape Town.

The issue of the young girls is not just about them being pregnant.

It is rape and criminality which should be treated as such by those in authority.

Remember this is a country where 52 420 cases of sexual offences were reported last year, according to the recent police crime statistics.

In some instances, those responsible for these teenage pregnancies are teachers who should be the ones protecting them. Instead of seeing them as their own children, they prey on the innocent souls and dump them once they are pregnant and move to the next victim.

Teacher unions are quiet, the teacher registration body, the SA Council of Educators, is quiet. And so is the pupils’ representative body, the Congress of SA Students, and the ANC Women’s League.

The scourge of these teenage pregnancies adds to the long list of issues on the plate of urgent tasks the Ramaphosa administration needs to tackle.

But we need to start dealing with identifying the perpetrators of these crimes, prosecuting them and isolating them from the rest of society.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
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