In August, Gauteng’s MEC for health, Nomathemba Mokgethi, reported that more than 2300 teenage girls had fallen pregnant in the province between April 2020 and March 2021. Of this staggering number, 934 of them were just between the ages of 10 and 14. 

These statistics are shocking, but they are not a new problem, as the Soul City Institute for Social Justice attests. While the number of unintended pregnancies may have escalated because of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, teenage pregnancy has long plagued our country. In fact, the pandemic has put a spotlight on issues that we have collectively ignored or chosen to. In a country where sexual violence against women is a pandemic on its own, it is only logical that the most vulnerable group – young girls – would be impacted in this manner.

To get to the bottom of this, we need answers to a few questions: 

1. Who is impregnating these girls? Is it their peers or adult men? Several studies show us it is likely older adult men, which means this is statutory rape. In 2018, Soul City conducted a study on sexual violence in school, while the finding showed learner-to-learner intimate partner violence, a significant amount of the violence also occurred between female learners reported and their teachers.

2. What are the barriers to the opening of statutory rape cases that minors face? Additionally, does society – us – make room for these girls to talk about their experiences and traumas?

3. What accountability measures are in place for officials who fail in this regard?

Join the Soul City Institute for Social Justice, in partnership with Daily Sun, as we unpack the answers and solutions to this ongoing challenge in South Africa. Teen Pregnancy in SA: We know the problem, but what are the solutions? will be facilitated by health journalist Pontsho Pilane. Register here: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/soul-city or join the conversation on Daily Sun’s Facebook page on Wednesday October 13 at 1pm. 

The panelists include: 

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Phinah Kodisang

Phinah Kodisang is CEO of the Soul City Institute and a feminist leader who is experienced in organisational development and advocacy, programme management and grant management, with over 15 years of experience in the development and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights field.

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Dr Manala Makua

Dr Manala Makua is Chief Director for women, maternal and reproductive health. She is responsible for the development of policies and monitoring of implementation at the national level. Her area of focus is mainly women’s health which includes, but is not limited to, women’s reproductive cancers, fertility planning and safe conceptions, contraceptive services, terminations of pregnancies, human genetics, maternal health, neonatal health and PMTCT.

Precious Magogodi is the Programme Specialist for adolescents and youth at UNFPA South Africa. She holds a Masters Degree in Occupational Social Work and has more than 15 years experience working on youth health issues and on employee wellness programmes. Her passion is working with young people and seeing them unlock their potential.

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Ntombifuthi Pretty Mngomezulu

Ntombifuthi Pretty Mngomezulu is a Social Mobiliser at Soul City Institute for Social Justice based in Ekurhuleni East. She is a teen mother and has been working with young girls between the ages of 14 and 19. She has a passion for advocating for the rights of young women and girls and wants them to be aware of their rights and responsibilities and know how to exercise them.

Be part of the conversation, register here: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/soul-city