Stats about pregnancies of 9 year-olds requires an investigation into rape, says Thiart

A total of 34 587 teenagers gave birth in 2020, of whom 688 were aged nine and ten, according to Stats SA, who stated that 899 393 babies were born in South Africa in 2020.

Of these, 34 587 were born to girls aged 17 and younger.

“Of the 34 587 births from teen mothers, 16 042 were aged 17, while 688 were [9 and] 10 years young. Early pregnancy and motherhood in South Africa create a greater risk in terms of maternal complications, resulting in low survival rates of babies, and forces many girls to prematurely take on an adult role which they are not emotionally or physically prepared for,” Stats SA told News24.co.za. (12th November 2021).

Statistics for the recorded live births in 2020 were released on Thursday, showing that 1 003 307 births were registered in South Africa.

“Of these, 899 303 (89.6%) were births that occurred and were registered in 2020 (current birth registrations), while 104 004 (10.4%) were births that occurred in previous years but were registered in 2020,” said Stats SA.

Stats SA said information about the fathers remained the biggest challenge.

“In 2020, no reliable information on fathers could be provided due to a high proportion of births (more than 60%) being registered without details of fathers.

“Section 10 of the Births and Deaths [Registration Act] prohibits unmarried fathers to have (sic) their information on the birth certificate of a child, which contributes to the high number of births with no information on fathers,” said Stats SA.

“This is expected to change in the coming years as in September 2021, the Constitutional Court ruled that this section of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act is unconstitutional. This means unmarried fathers can now have their information registered in the birth certificate of their children at the Department of Home Affairs,” Stats SA added. (Source: www.news24.co.za).

TinaThiart, founder member and trustee of 1000 Women Trust, said: “The fact that 688 girls aged nine and ten gave birth, is nothing less than statutory rape. According to the guidelines the hospital and parent should report to the social workers at the department of social services. Cases of statutory rape should be opened The question is what the national prosecuting authority is going to do about this depressing and hugely alarming situation.

“Surely, it requires an investigation and that the government should and must do something to address this situation.

“Already, we have a situation in South Africa where the conviction rate for rape and gender-based violence is only about 7 %, an indication that the justice system is failing South African women and girls.”

In an article on 6th September 2021, www.converation.com revealed that pregnancies amongst adolescent girls remain a global problem. An estimated 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 in developing countries became pregnant and about 12 million of them gave birth every year.

Even before the pandemic, in South Africa, 16 % of young women aged 15 to 19 had begun childbearing. The figure ranges between 11 % in urban areas and 19 % in rural areas.

One factor that has contributed to this is violence against women and girls. In South Africa, one in three women experience gender-based violence and one in five children under the age of 18 experienced sexual abuse, noted the www.conversation.com

Deficiencies in the health system also contribute to teenage pregnancies. It is not always easy for adolescents to get contraceptives if services aren’t youth-friendly. Education about contraception for adolescents is inadequate too. “We urge the Department of Health to ensure that Girl programs are rolled out,’ said Thiart.

In South Africa, 31 % of girls aged 15 to 19 aren’t getting the contraceptives they need – a bigger proportion of this age group than other age groups, according to www.conversation.com.

The WE DARE programs will assist in starting the conversation with mothers and girls to understand their reproduction rights. For more information, contact info@1000women.co.za.