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Sugar daddies, teen pregnancies - how to help girls?

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INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

The department wanted to ensure that drastic steps were taken to deal with the problem of diseases affecting young people, while many girls were also falling pregnant. Picture: Lebohang Mashiloane

Cape Town - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says “sugar daddy syndrome” is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Earlier this week Motsoaledi said a study done in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands showed that at least 28 percent of schoolgirls were HIV positive compared to only four percent of boys.

He said that if young girls were being infected, it was not because they were having sex with their peers.

“The issue, we believe, is the sugar daddy syndrome.”

In 2011, there were 94 000 schoolgirl pregnancies in South Africa.

Motsoaledi said the Integrated School Health Programme, which was launched by President Jacob Zuma last year, offered several services including reproductive health.

* Annette Lovemore, the DA’s spokeswoman on Basic Education, said she would write to the chairwoman of the portfolio committee on basic education to request that the committee prioritised discussing different policy and intervention strategies for pregnant pupils informed by a pending Constitutional Court ruling on the issue of pregnancy policies in schools.

“Learner pregnancy is an issue that affects the most vulnerable of our society. Child-care responsibility is allocated to girl learners and a national study by the Department of Basic Education found that learner pregnancy rates were higher in schools in poor areas,” Lovemore said.

“With the right interventions and policies we can ensure that learners are provided the support they need without compromising their right to basic education.”

She said the Western Cape Education Department had provided a “holistic” policy and support programme called Managing Learner Pregnancy in Public Schools.

“We must further do everything we can to keep pregnant learners in school for as long as possible and ensure that after they have their baby that they are able to finish their studies. A comprehensive national policy on pregnancy must be the first step towards achieving this critical goal to ensure that basic fundamental rights of the most vulnerable of our society are protected.” - Cape Argus

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