Last week in The shorts: All for you: Part 1 we met Lesego the teen mom, who later we saw be a mom of three before she was 25 years old. Today our minister of basic education was reporting on 2015 schooling stats, and from that 15000 teen girls were reported to have fallen pregnant.
Then while listening to talk radio 702, with host Redi Tlhabi, she said something that I have been wondering about for sometime. Mme Redi asked something along the lines of, who fathers these kids, and if its adult men then it is statutory rape as some of these girls were as young as twelve. She also said if these teen are impregnated by other teen boys, then we as a society have a much bigger problem.
Our minister also said that we need to educate our teens more on the consequences of having unprotected sex, then I asked myself, what have our education system been teaching our children in the compulsory subject Life orientation/ Life skills, from grade R to 12. I asked this because just a few week ago my second daughter came home and showed my drawings of both male and female sexual organs, and told me what they were taught about how babies are made that day. My daughter is in grade 6.
Some few years back, her older sister who is now in grade 12, came home and told us that her teacher had told them to ask us what we as parents would do if they (boys and girls of her age) started dating, she was still in primary school as well by then. Years back our government had a campaign for the prevention of HIV spreading, the famous ABC, abstain, be faithful, condomize, mostly aimed at young people.
The latest campaign is double up, where you use both condoms and contraceptives, which both are free at government clinics. At some point condoms where distributed at schools, you can even find them on sphaza shops point of sale. Each year nurses go around school to give HPV vaccines to girls from age 9, and also educate them about sex.
Now I ask, is it about education or is there something bigger that drives these statistics on teen pregnancies?
Are we as parents and society letting our by children get away with not taking any responsibilities for their part in these pregnancies? Do we have to look the other way each time we see an old men with a teen girl in a car under a tree, just because she is not your child, then go around labelling her all sorts of things and the guy just gets away without any labels that hurts their very core of being human?
Going back to Mme Redi’s statements, how many of those teen girls’ parents ever laid criminal charges against men that raped their children? Or they just see another meal ticket as their circumstances at home are that poor, that that man is just looked at as another way of providing for their family? Or is it that they do not know that what that man did is rape, or they know but have just lost faith in our justice system as many have in our country? Or is it a question of if that man went to jail, who will provide for the new born child?
If the pregnancy is as a result of a teen boy, why is society so hard on teen girls and their family but not on the teen boys? In most of our black cultures when a girl is unmarried and is found to be pregnant, the family of the girl meet with the family of the boy/man responsible for the pregnancy, for the boy/man to acknowledge and take responsibility for the baby.
If the boy is still too young and cannot provide, his family takes on the responsibility of the baby until he is able to take over, some families even force the two new parents to marry. Which on the other hand still puts the girl child at a disadvantage as she will still be faced with being a wife and a mother and her education still surfers the same as if she was just left to raise the child just with the help of her family. At least that way her own family sometimes encourage her to complete at least her basic education while they look after the baby.
How many Lesegos do we know in our communities and we have just labelled them and turned our backs?
Some might put the blame on parents, but take it from me, no matter how on-hands you are and how you explain, tell real life stories and show your children all the responsibilities that comes with sex or how ever you put it, your children make their choices and unfortunately you cannot be with them 24/7 and live their lives for them with all the knowledge and experience you have.
Have we as females let males dominate us to the point where we take pleasure in belittling other females because of acts males do to us?
Have we as society become so numb that responsibilities are just a word or some luxury that no one wants?