Durban — Religious leaders are calling for steps to be taken to stop sexual abuse of minors. This comes after Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) revealed that KwaZulu-Natal recorded over 26 000 teenage pregnancies between April and December last year.
KZN Christian Council executive committee secretary Bishop Nathi Zondi said the issue has become so urgent that action has to be taken immediately.
He said that the stats revealed that there was “an incredible problem of abuse that is taking place in KZN, especially sexual abuse”.
“There is no doubt that we are facing a problem that has reached epidemic proportions. We as the religious Council of Churches and all the religious leaders see this as a challenge for both ourselves and all the other stakeholders, to say that now we need to rise up and do something together.
“It cannot be business as usual when our young children have to leave school because they have to raise children themselves, where they have to drop out of school because they have become parents.
“It has become such a serious problem that we all must stand up and do something together.
“We are saying that it is time for all stakeholders within this province of KZN to put heads together and begin to come up with strategies that will curb this issue.
“When you have a pregnancy rate rising in the age group between 10 years and 14 years, then there is a serious violation of children’s rights that must be curbed,” said Zondi.
He said it was also important that law enforcement agencies play their part in ensuring that the people who impregnate children as young as 10 years old are brought to book.
He said the council was working in various KZN districts by helping a number of families that have had to face a situation where their children had to step out of school because they have fallen pregnant.
KZN DA spokesperson on Education, Imran Keeka, said that pregnant pupils have every right to be in school for the duration of pregnancy.
“The schools should ensure that pupils return to school after they have given birth to minimise the number of school drop-outs because they are unable to complete matric and cannot go to tertiary to further their studies, which also increases the rates of unemployment in the country.
“Pregnancy should not be enough reason for schools to chase out pupils.
“Society, law enforcement and other government departments should come together in order to find a resolution to the issue,” said Keeka. KZN National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa CEO Thirona Moodley said it was regrettable that so many pupils had fallen pregnant.
“Pupils have always been allowed to have a baby and come back to school, both parents and educators need to ensure that pupils return to school to avoid rising numbers of drop-outs.
“Also, boys that are impregnating pupils need to take responsibility and be held accountable for their actions because they are getting away with it,” said Moodley
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