Health-e (Cape Town)

South Africa: Young Girl's Dream Interrupted

Citizen journalist Mtshana Mvlisi presents his second column on sex and teen pregnancy in Lusikisiki.

The life of a young girl of 13 - and her dreams - has been interrupted by the 45-year-old man who impregnated her.

Talking to the girl Nandipha, revealed that her affair with the man started in 2012.

She thought being called "the favourite" of this man, whom she called uncle, would be an ongoing thing. He always asked her to do some little chores for him. This did not bother her mother, who suspected never suspected anything was happening between the two.

In grade nine, Nandipha had dreams of going to university after matric but now she is seven months pregnant and things have changed. Nandipha continues to hide her pregnancy from her mother and friends. She must now also face the reality that her baby will have no father as the man who impregnated her was killed during a robbery.

Many girls in OR Tambo District find themselves in similar situations as Nandipha. About 13 percent of all babies delivered in the district are born to mothers just like Nandipha under the age of 18.

On this account, Ourhealth talked to the nurses of different health facilities about contraceptives.

"When these teenagers come to the clinic, the nurses by all means talk to them and teach them on how to handle themselves regarding prevention of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV," said the sister in charge at Goso Forest Clinic, Mrs Chitha. "Their exposure to these diseases leads to the spread of many, and it also affects their life styles."

At Village Clinic, a nursing sister Miss Dlakavu said that while nurses try to offer teenagers contraceptive options, teens do not always listen and often have misconceptions about protection.

"These youngsters have answers to this, saying they do not want to take certain things like Depo-provera because they believe that it makes the body wobbly and weak," Dlakavu said.

One young woman, Nolundi, said that although she knew about different options, she was not convinced.

"I do not want to use any contraception especially the injection," she told OurHealth. "The pill seems to be better although sometimes you forget it."

In the clinics I visited, the nursing staff asked that government and non-governmental organisations develop a strategy or campaign to combat the careless behaviour of teenagers. This goes not only for girls, but also for boys and young men because they all come seeking the STI treatment everyday in the health facilities.

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