Editorial: What hopes for the youth in SA?

Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

June 2012

It’s not easy to be young in SA.

I started the month of June by reading this article about the number of girls falling pregnant in Grade 3. As in, at nine years old. When they are 27, their daughters and sons will be in matric. There is nothing in the article about the fathers of these children, other than to suggest that they are rapists. Sex with someone under the age of 15 is always rape. What about paternal parental responsibilities when the child is conceived with another classmate? How can children of 9 years old raise a child?

These are the young women we want to lead South Africa one day. Many of them are being educated outside of classrooms, because of a lack of teachers, a lack of government commitment and a lack of facilities. This should be of major concern to us.

Sexual violence flourishes in South African schools. This year we have seen the Soweto rape video, and many more instances of abuse against minors. There is no nationalised sex education curriculum, and the provincial ones that  I have seen do not have any lessons on sexual violence or rape.

Girls are absent from schools because they are menstruating. President Zuma promised to provide sanitary towels to young girls of school going age. I haven’t heard any more about whether this has been implemented. Girls leave school when they are pregnant – sometimes at the school’s request, sometimes because of peer pressure. There are next to no support structures for mothers in schools.

Girls will leave school, with a matric or not, and will face soaring unemployment rates. Some will live in areas of affluence, others in areas with a lack of service delivery. A lack of education limits the life choices of girls in their adult years.

We need to change this somehow. This month I think we need to start looking critically at our lack of activism as women relating to education. We can no longer afford to remain silent about the risks that girls face going to school, and the more significant risks that they face when they don’t get an education. If girls in South Africa are not educated, we will remain a patriarchal country, and perhaps it will get worse for women.

I’d love to hear your solutions, suggestions and hopes. We need to see our way out of this tunnel. Shine some light for us.

Jen Thorpe



3 thoughts on “Editorial: What hopes for the youth in SA?”

  1. You speak truth. I have witnessed many young girls that stumble through life because they fell pregnant at an early age. Their lives become bleak, no support, not from the family, not from the school, not from the communities; the world totally shuts down and they are left in a world of an undesired solitude. Girl’s don’t fall pregnant on their own, where are the boys and men responsible? The boys continue to go to school, they are given ‘heads up’ for their manliness, while the girl child is hidden in shame. Sex education should be an on going process, people engage in sexual activity every passing moment and new children are introduced to sex everyday. We women need to take a stand to support these girls, as a collective, by doing so, protect our society from partriachism and promote education of young girls, that’s the only way we will succeed in gunning for an equal society.


  2. @chuma “Young boys get given a heads up for their manliness”. What a load of bullcrap. I cannot recall a situation where as young boy who can’t even take care of himself was given a “heads up” for bringing a child into this world that he cannot even take care of. Perhaps we spend. I remember a documentary dipicting the challenges teenage fathers face to help take care of their children and yes there are a lot more than you think. Also please give credit to the thousands of families who have made huge sacrifices to support their teenage daughters. Although there are many fathers who abandon girls when they get pregnant. Can we atleast have balanced opinions so that we can solve these issues that are detrimental to our society. We can’t solve social issues based on general rhetoric. We can only solve these issues based on facts.


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