THE Department of Basic Education says scores of young girls between the ages of 10 and 19 years old are infected with HIV every week.
This was revealed during the department’s state of Teenage pregnancy and Comprehensive Sexuality report presented to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on Tuesday.
The report has revealed that teenage pregnancy increased by 30% higher than the annual average between April 2020 and March 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Deputy director-general Dr Granville Whittle said poverty, rape, gaps in the Comprehensive Sexuality Education, and school dropouts are among the culprits.
“Girls are four times more likely to be impacted or affected by HIV compared to boys. 46% of sexual abuse complaints in South Africa are children, 15.1% of all the girls experience rape, sexual harassment, verbal abuse or bullying in schools.”
In the first quarter of 2021, just over 35 000 pregnancies were recorded among young girls aged between 15 and 19 years old.
1053 pregnancies were recorded among children aged between 10 and 14 years old.
These numbers were increased by the countrywide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Whittle told Parliament that the numbers are alarming and need immediate action and solutions.
He said most of these pregnancies and HIV rates are due to statutory rape.
“We want to work with schools and school principals to ensure that the cases are reported, investigated and the perpetrators are brought to book. Often these girls are raped by older men and that’s why they fall pregnant,” said Whittle.
The department says keeping girls in school has proven to be one of the tools to prevent teen pregnancy and educate adolescent girls on sex, sexuality, and HIV.
Alongside the Department of Health and Social Development, DBE has submitted an integrated school health policy to the cabinet for approval.
This policy will according to DBE assist in the prevention and management of learner pregnancy in schools.
- * Agencies