TEEN MOMS: The three teenagers who will be a featured in the local version of 16 and pregnant.
Following a successful run in the US, a local version of Sixteen and Pregnant is expected to be aired later this month.

But instead of a full season of the show, the South African edition will only be an hour-long documentary which aims to educate youngsters about the reality of being a pregnant teenager in modern society.

In the candid 60-minute programme, which will be aired on MTV Base, three girls from Rockville, Kliptown and Pretoria respectively will shed a light into their lives as young mothers-to-be.

The cameras will follow the trio around as they navigate the bumpy terrain of adolescence, rebellion, love, sex and coming of age - all while dealing with pregnancy and motherhood.

The local edition of the hit reality show is due to a partnership with the MTV Staying Alive Foundation as well as Marie Stopes International, a non-governmental organisation providing contraception and safe-abortion services.

The two associations say the need for such a show in the country comes as recent government data shows that 15500 South African schoolgirls fell pregnant in 2015.

For this reason, the reality TV programme might go a long way in highlighting the need for improved access to information and services for young people to empower their sexual and reproductive decision-making.

“Sixteen and Pregnant highlights the many societal, economic and health challenges faced by pregnant teenage girls,” said Georgia Arnold, the MTV Staying Alive Foundation executive director.

She said this ranged from a lack of basic sex education to peer pressure, health problems, parental disapproval, unwanted responsibility, a lack of money, community gossip, the difficulty of continuing an education, facing life as a single parent and fears about how to raise the baby.

“By highlighting the sacrifices they are obliged to make and the hurdles they have to overcome, we hope to encourage them to take control of their lives and bodies by helping them to make more informed choices about sex, sexual health and contraception,” Arnold added.

Whitney Chinogwenya, brand and communications head at Marie Stopes South Africa, echoed these sentiments and said more needed to be done about teenage pregnancy in the country.

“We hear a lot about young women and pregnancy in South Africa but not enough about the complexities of young people’s experiences and the role we all have to play in creating a truly enabling environment for teens growing up today.”

Chinogwenya said the series was important not only because it shed light on pregnancy and parenting for young people, but also allowed for reflection instead of judgment.

“I hope parents and other role models watch this with their kids and consider whether we are all doing enough to ensure young people have the tools they need - be that information, services or both - to make a full breadth of choices about their lives.”

The programme is designed to complement drama series MTV Shuga: Down South, whose storylines involve teen pregnancy, contraception, unwanted pregnancy and mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

MTV Shuga Presents Sixteen and Pregnant premieres on MTV Base on May 31.

The show will also air on MTV (DStv channel 130) on July 28.

For more information about the issues covered in the documentary, phone the Marie Stopes hotline at 0860 995 085 or chat with a counsellor on the Marie Stopes WhatsApp line at +27 62 595 2446 (South Africa only), or go to www.mtvshuga.com/knowledge/teenage-pregnancies/