Teenage pregnancies in Africa rocket during Covid-19 lockdown
By Rapula Moatshe 14m ago
Share this article:
Pretoria – Many young girls across the continent won't be returning to schools under the eased lockdown restrictions due to a high number of pregnancies that occurred since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Africa.
This was the sad reality shared yesterday by participants during a virtual round-table discussion hosted by MenEngage Africa.
Speakers deliberated on the impact of Covid-19 on the lives of men and women, and its effects on gender-based violence.
Teenage pregnancies were also highlighted as having been on the increase during the pandemic period.
Participants suggested some girls fell pregnant because they were sexually abused by men who took advantage of their abject poverty.
Kassoum Coulibaly, national co-ordinator of MenEngage in Mali, said there were more girls not attending school in his country than boys.
He said girls were forced to eke out a living by working in informal businesses where they were often sexually abused by their clients.
“The night clubs have been closed for a while and men who are going to that space to have some sexual relations outside the house have not had any situations like that, and so they come back to their families and young girls in the families are sexually abused," Coulibaly said.
From Zimbabwe, Godfrey Nengomasha also painted a sad situation, where many girls would have to stay at home after they became pregnant during the hard lockdowns.
"We are going to miss some girls going to school due to pregnancies that happened during the lockdowns," he said.
Participants also reported Covid-19 has not affected men and women the same way because they were not engaged in similar economic activities.
David Tamba Mackieu, founding executive director of Men’s Association for Gender Equality in Sierra Leone, said under the lockdown, which ended on Sunday in their country, women suffered more economic pressure because the majority of them were breadwinners.
Sharing the same sentiment was Bruce Sakindi from Rwanda, who said women and girls had been significantly affected in terms of job security prospects.
He said in Rwanda the majority of people, including women, did odd jobs and were not going to work every day.
The women were often vulnerable to sexual exploitation from their clients while doing these odd jobs.
During the first three months of the pandemic, Sakindi said, there was an increase in gender-based violence cases.
Different speakers attributed the increased gender-based violence cases to loss of income by women and the fact men spent more time at home with their spouses.
While the role played by governments in cushioning the negative effects of the lockdowns on the people was commended, there was a consensus that impact assessment studies ought to be undertaken to gauge the differences made by the social relief funds and food packages.