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ARREST PREGNANT UNDERAGE GIRLS– MP

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LOBAMBA – “Teenage pregnancy should be a punishable offence to reduce its escalating rate in the country.”


This was the submission made by Mkhiweni Member of Parliament (MP) Michael Masuku during a workshop of MPs which was hosted by the Deputy Prime Minister’s (DPM) Office. It took place at the Parliament Conference Room yesterday.   Masuku suggested that there should be a law that stipulates an age when girls who are found pregnant should be arrested for a year so that they may be corrected and learn from their mistakes.


The MP said teenage pregnancy should be made a punishable offence, just like offences under the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence (SODV) Act.
In this way, the MP stated that minor girls would refrain from having early sexual intercourse, which ultimately led to pregnancies and school dropouts.


Causes


Masuku said one of the major causes of teenage pregnancies was that parents hid the truth from their children, when this should not be done.  Masuku said this following a presentation made by Director in the Gender Department, Jane Mkhonta, who informed the MPs that there were 1 046 girls who dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy. She attributed early pregnancies to peer pressure.


Mkhonta said this led to them being misguided by their companions and ended up indulging in sexual intercourse. The director also mentioned that absent parents who may not be available physically or emotionally, contributed to minor girls not being monitored and this led to them engaging in sexual intercourse. She said the consequences of teenage pregnancies were physical, which involved physical injuries and disabilities.

She also declared that mental risks were also involved. Mkhonta specified that teenagers who were pregnant ended up having depression and some had eating and sleeping disorders, while others committed suicide. She said others got accustomed to the culture of repetitive behaviour, which led them to giving birth to two or three children even after they had been given a chance to return to school. The director stated that some teenagers who fell pregnant adopted a culture of having multiple sexual partners, as others terminated their pregnancies, which was illegal.


Mkhonta said the DPM’s Office had a campaign whose its goal was to reduce pre-teen, teenage and post-teenage pregnancies by 50 per cent by 2023. She detailed that the mission was to implement the SODV Act of  2018, Children’s Protection and Welfare Act 2012 and Disability Act 2018. She added that the plan was also to create a conducive environment for the protection and promotion of the Sexual Reproductive Rights and Responsibilities. 
Responding, DPM Themba Masuku highlighted that it was crucial to evaluate if the teenagers fell pregnant willingly or were abused, before considering enacting a law that would criminalise teenage pregnancy.  


Houses


Meanwhile, Somntongo MP Dumisani Mbhamali said men who had sexual intercourse in one-roomed houses in the presence of their children should be arrested as this was another factor which led to teenage pregnancies.


Mbhamali said this exposure led the minors to experiment at an early age. The MP pointed out that parents need not build fancy brick houses but could build thatched grass houses for their children, so long as they did not expose them to sex in one-roomed flats.


He further submitted that there should be a law that prohibits children from working in drinking spots as this also led to them being sexually abused by people who were intoxicated. He added that chiefs should ensure that drinking spots were established distances away from homesteads to protect girl children from being abused.

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