Minister Xingwana - What are you doing to address pre-teen pregnancy?
Helen Lamoela, Shadow Minister of Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities
31 May 2012
Today, I have submitted oral questions to the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, on what her department is doing to coordinate government action to reduce the number of pre-teen and teen girls that are falling pregnant.
A report released by the Department of Basic Education revealed that 109 pupils in Grade 3, alone, fell pregnant during 2009.
The report titled, “The Annual Survey for Ordinary Schools for 2009-2010” highlights that teenage pregnancy is rampant in high schools, particularly in grades 7 to 9. Pregnancy is, however, also becoming increasingly common among pre-teen girls in Grades 3 to 5.
Minister Xingwana’s department is tasked with promoting, facilitating, coordinating and monitoring the realisation of the rights of women, children and people with disabilities.
The Minister should therefore surely have a strategy to coordinate the Departments of Health, Education and Social Development and the Police to ensure that the necessary programmes and policies are in place to prevent young girls from getting pregnant and provide appropriate support where the situation does arise?
With high numbers of under-age girls falling pregnant, the Minister should also be ensuring that each case of pre-teen pregnancy is investigated and, where necessary, charges of rape or sexual assault is laid.
Minister Xingwana has to ensure that a multi-pronged approach is developed in which the Department of Education ensures that appropriate life orientation skills are taught in schools, that the Departments of Health and Social Development is ready to support these girls when they do fall pregnant and that the Police actually follows up on every reported case of underage pregnancy.
Underage pregnancy hampers the ability of poor girls to escape poverty. I urge the Minister to take the leading role in fighting for the realisation of the rights of these girls, so that they are afforded the opportunity to live a better life. The Minister must use this as an opportunity to show us that her Department matters.