Lockdown sparks teen baby boom

Everson Luhanga

More and more teenagers are becoming mothers during lockdown.

This is according to Gabisile Khoza of the Siyazigabisa Home of Hope.

“There have been more new mothers who are teenagers since lockdown than ever before,” she said.

“When lockdown started, young people had nothing to do. There were no schools, no parks, no movie nights and there was nothing to keep them entertained. We have mothers as young as 13 who gave birth during lockdown.”

She said many of the teenagers come to her to get food for themselves and for their little ones.

“In the course of feeding them, we give them education on how they should look after themselves and their children,” she said.

“Most of their baby-daddies are teenage boys themselves who are not ready for commitment and they are not working. Once a girl is pregnant, the boys vanish and the girls are left with the burden of raising the children.

Gabisile said she recently brought in Family and Marriage of South Africa (FAMSA) representatives to talk to teenagers about the problems of being a teenage mother.

FAMSA representative Nontobeko Magwaza said there is a need for children to be mature before being involved in unprotected sex. 

Nontobeko said the lockdown had placed a lot of pressure on young people. 

She said older men also impregnated the girls.

“Once they hear that the girls are pregnant, they go back to their wives leaving the young girls with children to raise.

“When we speak to these teenagers, the common reasons for them to get into unplanned relationships is hunger and problems with taking care of themselves.

“Some of the girls were getting their daily meals at schools. With lockdown, any amount of money to them meant everything,” she said.