Schoolgirls coerced into sex – Steenkamp

“The data we have is that these girls are not impregnated by schoolboys; the girls are impregnated by adult men. It is a concern,” the education ministry executive director said.

15 January 2021 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES







WINDHOEK

The Omusati Region has been hardest hit by the scourge of teenage pregnancies, with a total of 562 cases recorded. This while the national figure for 2020 stands at 3 625.

Kavango East and West have seen a combined 1 042 schoolgirls falling pregnant, while Zambezi recorded 514 teenage pregnancies, followed by Ohangwena with 443.

//Karas recorded the lowest number of teenage pregnancies with 16 cases.

Last year’s total is more than double the 1 542 teenage pregnancies recorded by the education ministry in 2019.

According to education ministry executive director Sanet Steenkamp, in-house research found that most of these girls are forced or exploited into sexual activity.

“It is very worrying and upsetting for us. Many of them have been coerced into sexual practices; others were groomed by working, adult, mature men who are of sound mind. What is even more concerning is that this was unprotected sex,” she said.

Cycle of poverty

Steenkamp added that while some of these girls return to school to complete their education, most are trapped in a cycle of poverty and end up dropping out.

“We want men to think twice. The data that we have is that these girls are not impregnated by schoolboys, the girls are impregnated by adult men. It is a concern,” she said.

Gender ministry executive director Ester Lusepani said the sad reality is this means an end of a childhood and, often, a school career.

According to her, the lack of teacher or parental care in rural areas is a major contributing factor.

“Some learners go to attend school in towns where there are no hostels or accommodation and then they end up squatting anywhere. This, and the hardship they live in, puts them at risk of being exploited,” she said.

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