Rising Cases Of Teen Pregnancies Worrisome
The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare says it is making efforts to protect girls from the scourge of teenage pregnancy.
A report by the Government in 2021 showed that 4 959 teenagers were impregnated between January and February that year.
Furthermore, an additional 1 774 girls got into early marriages, with most cases recorded in rural, farming and mining areas.
Tawanda Zimhunga, director for social development in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, said the Government has stepped in to protect the girl-child. Said Zimhunga:
There is the provision of psychosocial support and counselling to the affected adolescents and their families.
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The sessions are conducted to support the girl’s emotional needs, and reduce the impact of trauma during the pregnancy as well as after the pregnancy.
We also have a case-management system whereby files are kept and feedback mechanisms, including follow-up on the child(ren), are possible.
Probation officers in the Department of Social Development are expected to walk the child all the way until their detrimental situation has been resolved.
Zimhunga added that girls who have dropped out of school due to pregnancies can access education through the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM). He said:
Under the programme, children who would have dropped out due to pregnancy are supported with school fees, uniforms and stationery to enable them to return to school.
There is also access to financial assistance through the harmonised cash transfers to strengthen vulnerable household economies and ensure children’s needs are catered for within the auspices of their home, and the access to food through the Food Deficit Mitigation Strategy programme.
The Constitutional Court recently ruled that the legal age of consent for sexual intercourse should be raised to 18 years from 16.
The court struck down provisions in the Criminal Law that set the age of consent for sexual intercourse at 16 years as unconstitutional.