By Theodorah Waga Mawasha
KGAPANE-A shocking statistic revealed that around 11 287 girls in Limpopo have been reported as pregnant between April of 2021 and March of 2022. The young girls, majority of which are still in school, are part of an ever-growing concern of teenage pregnancies in South Africa.
Last year, the South African Council of Educators (SACE) reported that 11 teachers from across the country were fired after they were found guilty on various charges related to sexual offences. Most of them, the organisation said, were fired for sexual violence against pupils
The report also revealed that female learners at school have become pregnant by teachers and older men – often known as blessers.
The organization further revealed that most cases are withdrawn by uncooperative parents, or the cases are never brought to the organisations’ attention.
SACE ‘s Legal and ethics manager George Moroasui stated that the statistics are deeply concerning and worrying.
“The numbers are worrisome and quite high. Most of the pregnant learners are between the ages of 10 and 19 shockingly. However, we can only handle cases that are brought to our attention. Most cases are withdrawn. Thus, only 11 teachers were persecuted”, Moroasui said.
In 2021, Limpopo’s Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba bluntly told schoolgirls to “open your books and close your legs”; a statement which went viral online and prompted the health MEC to receive some heavy backlash. She was called out for putting the burden of sexual responsibility solely on girls.
“In a country that has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world and, with a rate of femicide five times the global average, continuing this kind of pervasive victim blaming will hinder us from eradicating gender-based violence in our society” expert said
Government introduced the Basic Education Pregnancy Policy in December of 2021 in order to deal with the growing number of girl children pregnant while still in school. The Policy requires schools to report girls to the police if they are under the age of sixteen and pregnant, and if the father of the baby is older than sixteen.
Only a court of law has the legal means to register the guilty teachers as sexual offenders, but the Provincial Departments of Education has a responsibility to report the cases to the SACE.
Sexual consent means agreeing to take part in any kind of sexual activity. Consent should be given before sexual activity occurs. Any sexual activity without consent constitutes rape or sexual assault. It is important that we educate ourselves and our children on what sexual consent is.