7 November 2012

Namibia: Builders Fingered Over Teen Pregnancies

Ongwediva — The high incidence of pregnancies among teenage schoolgirls in the Oshikoto Region is partly to blame on construction workers and truckers around major projects, especially at the newly-proclaimed town of Omuthiya.

Omuthiya has developed rapidly, attracting hordes of builders and truck drivers. According to a study conducted by Komo's Institute of Professional Development (KIPD) in Omuthiya, there were 16 cases of teenage pregnancy during December 2011 followed by Onyanya with 14 cases during the same period.

A youth peer educator of KIPD, Lukas Komomeya, revealed this in an interview with New Era, and added that the situation is exerting pressure on various stakeholders who need to come up with an urgent solution to the problem.

"One may perhaps argue that the rise in the cases of pregnant girls could be blamed on the introduction of the town's development and the lack of boarding schools. This has attracted contractors flocking to the newly proclaimed capital of the Oshikoto Region," said Komomeya.

During the 2011 academic year a shocking 62 cases of teenage pregnancy were reported in the Oshikoto Region. In other words, 62 (or more) young ladies in the Oshikoto Region had their schooling delayed if not cut short.

"Statistics could be higher than 62. Hence more than 62 school-going girls in the Oshikoto Region were exposed to unprotected sex and a risk of contracting HIV. If we act now this number can be lowered as we strive for zero teenage pregnancy in the Oshikoto Region," Komomeya added.

"Just imagine becoming a mother at 15! Not only is it detrimental to both the health of a young mother who is not yet both physically and mentally fully developed but also jeopardises their chances of attaining their full potential academically," he noted, adding that "the majority of those responsible for impregnating girls were workers, schoolmates, teachers, construction workers and soldiers, especially workers building new schools."

The other reason could be peer pressure and other social factors, which could be driving them to indulge in unsafe sex. A youth peer educator training course to create awareness about HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy was held last week in the Oshikoto Region.

The training focused on the challenges facing learners, as well as the dangers of HIV/AIDS.

At the end of the training, learners are required to form peer educators' clubs and to continue with awareness creation at their schools and to share the same information with their parents and communities.

The training was facilitated by representatives of the Regional Aids Committee of Education (RACE) in the Ministry of Education in the Oshikoto Region.

"Teenage pregnancy has been identified as one of the primary causes of poverty because the teenagers do not plan for themselves, let alone their children before giving birth. Teenage pregnancy is on the increase in recent times and the time has come for collective efforts by government, parents, the clergy, youths and every concerned citizen to help address this social cancer. The earlier the better," he said.

According to Komomeya, even though abortion is illegal in Namibia, the fear of dropping out of school, poverty, pressure at home, rejection and denial by their boyfriends and other factors drive some young pregnant girls to undergo abortions.

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