Sixteen and pregnant

04 March 2019 | Social Issues

Namibian Sun caught up with Anna Kastoor (not her real name) at Kalkrand. She left school when she was in Grade 7 because her family was struggling without a breadwinner but, instead of earning a living, she found herself pregnant and with an even bleaker future.

Kastoor is one of many girls at Kalkrand who have had to make hard decisions because their parents struggle due to the high unemployment rate that plagues the Hardap Region.

“We live with my mom, who is sickly and unemployed. No one in my family is working so I was forced to find a job. I left school in grade 7 and went to Windhoek to look after people's children. But that did not work out so I returned,” she said.

So right now she is at home and “zulas” with her mother and siblings.

Kastoor is turning 17 this year. The father of her unborn baby is 21 and has no fixed income.

“We are still together and he supports me. It is impossible to find a job at Kalkrand,” she said.

Her dream of becoming a schoolteacher is now down the drain, she quipped.

“I have younger siblings and my mother is sickly so I will have to look after my own child as well,” she says.





The only glimmer of hope is the prospect that her mother will soon qualify for a state pension.

“For now I am just here, waiting until the baby arrives,” she said.

Kastoor lives with her mother and siblings in a two-room shack in Kalkrand's informal settlement called Papegaaistraat.

A local pastor, who did not want to be identified, said it was shocking that neither the police nor the nurses could see something was wrong when an underage girl reported for pre-natal check-ups.

“Is it not the responsibility of the nurse to ask the child who impregnated her and then report it to the police?” he questioned.

He directed Namibian Sun to three homes where underage pregnant girls live, but they were either not at home or the families refused to talk. Underage pregnancy is all too common in the area.

In 2017, Namibian Sun reported that about 20% of the 681 pregnant women in the Rehoboth district were children.

According to confidential reports in Namibian Sun's possession, at that time, 124 of that figure were girls between 15 and 19 while seven were girls younger than 15.

The report also states that seven girls under the age of 15 fell pregnant in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively, while only four were recorded in 2016.

In 2016, a total of 29 girls younger than 15 went to clinics to seek family-planning services, seven in 2015, two in 2014 and three in 2015.

The report noted that the problem is of such magnitude that nurses in the district are compelled to dispense contraceptives to 14-year-old girls without their parents' consent.

It also indicated that five of 379 teenagers aged between 15 and 19 tested positive for HIV between January and August that year.

Between January and December 2016 a total of nine teenagers in the same age group tested positive for HIV, ten in 2015 and eight in 2014.

Staff at the clinics in the district told Namibian Sun that these figures were but a drop in the ocean, as many did not report for antenatal care or HIV testing.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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