Teenage pregnancies: Time to act

Hazvinei Mwanaka.

The shocking story of a nine year old Tsholotsho girl who fell pregnant made sad reading. She has since given birth by cesarean section.

Barely a week later, another nine year old Bindura girl is reported to be pregnant.

While previous reports of teen pregnancies were reported in the media, these two cases really hit closer home. Nine year-olds (grade three pupils), for God’s sake?

According to media reports the Tsholotsho girl gave birth through the cesarean section but still my mind wonders what if she had not been assisted and was to give birth the normal way? Was her body going to accommodate that?

There are cases where teenagers and their babies die while giving birth at home as parents conceal the cases.

These are some of the factors that we have to put into consideration when issues of teenage pregnancies are talked about. Ok we have talked about the body what about the mind, are they really prepared to be mothers? I doubt.

Being a teenager there are a lot of things that one needs to go through and experience which might be difficult if one gives birth.

To be honest teenage pregnancies are a pain in the back. Teenage mothers are struggling to cope. Yes we have talked about the body, mind what about finances, are they financially stable for the upkeep of the baby? It is difficult again.

According to PLAN International, causes of teen pregnancies include, among others, lack of information about sexual and reproductive health and rights, inadequate access to service tailored to young people, family, community and social pressure to marry, sexual violence, forced marriages and lack of education or dropping out of school.

So recently I partook in a conversation where a form four girl was saying one of her school mate a form two girl was pregnant but when she was asked about who was responsible, she could not pinpoint one man. They were many.

According to the form four girl the mother of the pregnant girl was shocked and at the same time traumatized to the extent of being hospitalized. So in as much as

teen mothers suffer their parents also suffer emotionally.

During the Covid 19 pandemic Zimbabwe recorded an increase in teen pregnancies with some advocates putting the blame on lockdowns and poverty. In 2021 Sithembiso Nyoni, the Women affairs minister giving a report in Parliament on the level of public service delivery noted that child marriages were increasing with a total of 4959 girls impregnated during the lockdown.

There were debates on whether adolescents should be given access to reproductive health services and education or not with public advocates saying it is the way to go whilst government, religious and cultural leaders arguing that it will promote and encourage young people to indulge into sexual activities.

Cheikh Tidiane Cisse, UNFPA Representative in one of their reports said there is need to invest in young people.

“Realizing the demographic dividend in Zimbabwe requires facing the challenges of adolescents and young people by investing in them, promoting their development, and expanding access to Adolescent sexual and reproductive health services to reduce teenage pregnancy. In increasing the proportion of educated and productive young people, the country can boost its development,” reads part of the report.

Its high time concerted efforts are put in place to fight teenage pregnancies in Zimbabwe. For me everyone has a role to play whether parents, siblings, church, government, cultural and the civic organizations. It’s a monster that we all have to deal with. Let us stop pointing fingers.

Banner image copyright/ istockphoto.com

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