More than 23,000 minors gave birth between April 2020 and March 2021, 934 of whom were under fourteen.
|A pregnant student at the Pretoria hospital school specializing in teenage pregnancy, July 29, 2013. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)|
Teenage pregnancies, and even pre-teenage pregnancies, have exploded in South Africa since the coronavirus pandemic, according to the NGO Save the Children (link in English), citing a 60% increase in the Johannesburg region, the country's most populous. New statistics published by the Department of Health in Gauteng province, where a quarter of South Africans live around Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria, show that more than 23,000 minors gave birth between April 2020 and March 2021, 934 of whom were under the age of fourteen.
In South Africa, early motherhood forces many girls, who are already stigmatized because their pregnancies are frowned upon or can mean forced marriage, to drop out of school and "locks them into a cycle of poverty and dependence on public assistance," the NGO points out.
"Seeing a child turn into a mother is heartbreaking. Children need to be children, not bring them into the world. It is particularly damning to learn that so many of the girls who gave birth last year were barely teenagers."
Marumo Sekgobela, health and nutrition manager for Save the Children Press release
The pandemic risks being synonymous with "irreversible setbacks and lost progress" for young girls, insists Marumo Sekgobela, calling in particular on the authorities to facilitate the dissemination of essential information on contraception and protection against STDs. South African adolescents do not benefit from sufficient sexual education, the association notes, nor from access to "affordable and appropriate" health services.
South Africa is the country most affected by the pandemic on the continent with 2.7 million cases of infection and more than 79,500 deaths.