Baby born to KZN teen (14) fuels concerns over scourge of underage pregnancies

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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JOHANNESBURG – The youngest mother to give birth to a new year’s baby in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) was a 14-year-old girl, which has raised concerns from government officials over the scourge of underage pregnancies in the country.

In a recent study by the Department of Social Development, KZN leads the country in teenage pregnancy with over 25,000 babies born to mothers aged 19 and younger over the last year.

KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane said the part of the issue can be linked to outdated cultural practices like inhlawulo – “damages” paid to the family of a woman who became pregnant out of wedlock by the father of the future child.

“When a 14 or a 13-year-old falls pregnant, the issue of inhlawulo is no longer a matter that must be discussed because what damages are you paying when you have impregnated a 13-year-old. That person must just be arrested plain and simple,” said Simelane.

READ: Over 400 New Year’s babies born across South Africa – Health Dept

Simelane added that there are options at public health facilities open to those who with unplanned pregnancies.

“As a province we remain concerned by the rate of unplanned pregnancies which is evident through other indicators. The demand also for the safe termination of pregnancy especially within the 10 to 19-year age group.

“Of course we will never turn anyone back but we are just using that as an indication to say there is a lot of unsafe sex that is happening among our teenagers,” she said.

WHERE ARE THE FATHERS?

That is the question Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has been asking.

Over the past two weeks, Phaahla has been visiting public hospitals across the country to oversee the deliveries of Christmas and New Year’s babies.

Speaking during a media briefing at the GJ Crookes Hospital south of KZN on Monday, Phaahla said it is concerning that the fathers have not been present.

“As we do that let’s not forget the fathers, we hope that they were there, even if they were not there at the labour ward, they were somewhere around during that difficult times. I am happy the majority of reports we are getting were normal deliveries.”

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