Between April 2020 and March 2021, 934 girls between the age of 10 and 14 gave birth in Gauteng.
That alone is staggering, and genuinely depressing, but the full picture is actually even worse.
The Gauteng health department recorded a total of 23 226 teenage pregnancies during that same period.
The stats came to light when Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi responded to questions tabled by the DA in the provincial legislature.
News24 reports that 2 976 girls between the ages of 10 and 19 chose to terminate pregnancies during that same period:
“These numbers are sad and incredibly troubling considering that these are young girls still have bright futures ahead of them. Teenage pregnancy remains a serious social and health problem in South Africa. It poses a health risk to both mother and child, and it also has social consequences such as continuing the cycle of poverty and early school dropout,” said the DA in a statement.
It also points to the sexual abuse crisis that South Africa finds itself in, with Mokgethi adding that the health department has no data on how many cases of statutory rape were opened during the timeframe in question.
Mokgethi said statistics related to statutory rape were the domain of the Department of Social Development and law enforcement.
This via a News24 article from last year:
In South Africa, while a child is legally defined as a person under the age of 18 years, the age of consent is 16 years, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.
This, however, does come with exceptions. Firstly, if the children engaging in sexual acts together are between the ages 12 and 16, they will not be criminally charged; and it is not criminal for a child older than 12 years to have sex with a partner who is less than two years older than they are.
The law further states that no child under the age of 12 years can consent to sex. Any sexual act with a child under the age of 12 years is statutory rape or sexual assault.
That’s as per Sections 15 and 16 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007.
Of course, just because someone is of legal age doesn’t mean they automatically consent to having sex.
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