Let's talk about Teen Pregnancy!
As we know, South Africa has a high teenage pregnancy rate! Many South Africans today become sexually active at an early age, have unprotected sex, have more than one partner and often do not use contraception; this is according to a study conducted in 2008 by the Department of Health. Teenagers are now at the forefront of the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. A friend or two of yours or yourself may have fallen pregnant at the wrong time which leads to putting oneself as risk to STIs, HIV/AIDS or an abortion. During the same year, The Human Science Research Council released another study observing HIV prevalence amongst South Africans, the study revealed that more teenage girls are infected than their male peers. The question that arises is who young girls are sleeping with if their male counterparts are less infected by HIV...
The Department of Health study had a specific focus on school going learners, statistics showed that almost 5000 schoolgirls in Johannesburg became pregnant in just one school year. The report says that teenage pregnancy between the ages of 12 and 19 has reached an all-time high, and education officials, parents and charities are working around the clock to address the problem. Also, over 100 primary school girls became pregnant in the same period. According to the report, most come from poverty stricken homes and are often influenced by their peers.
How do we curb the unfortunate challenge of teenage pregnancy, which impacts on the confidence and progress of young girls? One way is to encourage girls to explore alternate ways to express themselves and exposing them to various platforms that give them information on sexual health. In partnership with The African Women’s Development Fund, Girls’Net is working with young girls to access their dreams for the future by equipping them with techno skills, writing skills and artistic expression. Girls’Net teamed up with The Home of Hope, an organisation which provides services for the safety, well-being and care of all children in need of it, to mentor young girls between 11 and 18 in the use of ICTs. The project encourages girls to articulate their needs and interests and to ensure that these are adequately reflected on various online platforms.