Teen pregnancies surge during lockdown

• 3 300 pregnant girls drop out of school

26 April 2021 | Education

NAMPA

WINDHOEK



An open dialogue was held by Regain Trust in Windhoek on Thursday to discuss the causes and various frameworks put in place to strengthen efforts to reduce learner pregnancies and gender-based violence (GBV) in Namibia.

It acknowledged that Namibia has a strong constitution and laws in place to combat all forms of violence. However, Covid-19 was an additional driver in the upsurge of GBV and learner pregnancy cases.

The executive director in the ministry of education, arts and culture, Sanet Steenkamp, in her presentation said statistics on pregnancy-related dropouts doubled after the Covid-19 lockdown was lifted.

“Preliminary data as reported by regions suggest that when schools reopened an upsurge in learner pregnancies doubled to 3 300, emanating from rape and incest also,” she said.

About 1 560 pregnancy-related dropouts were recorded in 2019.

Although Namibia may have strong laws and policies in place to fight violence and adolescent pregnancy, as a developing country, there are unforeseen challenges such as Covid-19 or financial means that may present challenges, Steenkamp said.

Resistance to change

European Union ambassador to Namibia Sinikka Antila said in her keynote speech: “What looks good on paper doesn't necessarily translate into effective implementation and enforcement on the ground.

“The reasons for this may be multiple, ranging from lack of financial means to lack of training and awareness of relevant actors to resistance to change in some parts of the society.” Regain Trust since its inception in May 2018 has facilitated discussions and seminars with abuse victims, life skills teachers, principals, parents/guardians and counsellors in the gender and health sectors to discuss the challenges they face and provide solutions or strong referrals.

Regain Trust director James Ithana informed attendees that through the Survivors Speak Up project they constantly try to find ways to engage both learners and parents to create an open relationship between the two to discuss sexual issues and relationships.

“We look to establish new multi-faceted approaches to curb GBV/learner pregnancies through holistic preventative measures and enhanced protection of survivors.”

Legal Assistance Centre project coordinator Dianne Hubbard pointed out at the same event that it is important to form programmes for perpetrators who are seeking help so that various causes of violence are addressed from the roots.