Give the pill to 12-year-olds – ANCYL

2011-05-01 10:00
Loyiso Sidimba and
Marumo Machete
Julius Malema’s ANC Youth League (ANCYL) wants government to ­provide contraceptives to girls from the age of 12.

This, together with legalising prostitution and raising the age limit for buying alcohol from 18 to 21, are among the proposals contained in the ANCYL’s education and health discussion paper for its 24th national congress in June.

The league has promised in its ­document to take a clear policy position on the matter and “guide society and look at all the pros and cons of legalising prostitution”.

It describes teenage pregnancy as a “perennial societal problem” that has reached alarming ­proportions.

The youth league supports the “mandatory initiation into contraception for all adolescent girls from the age of 12 to curb teenage pregnancy”.

But Katharine Hall, senior researcher for the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town, fears the league’s discussion document has the potential to jeopardise children’s rights.

“I suspect it would be in contravention of the new Children’s Act.”

Hall said the act already made provision for 12-year-olds to ­access contraceptives, but does not mention that it should be mandatory.

“It smacks of an authoritarian approach which is contrary to promoting safe sex behaviour that will not only curb teen ­pregnancies but also HIV/Aids ­infections.”

Hall said data on teen pregnancies showed the phenomenon to be on the decline.

Statistics SA’s community survey estimates for 2007 ­confirm this.

Zanele Mkhonza (17), a learner from Meadowlands, welcomed the idea of compulsory contraceptives.

“Making contraceptives available at this age is one of the interventions that should be entered into, but we must be careful not to send a message that teenagers are free to engage in sexual activities,” she said.

Sello Makhura, a Soweto ­parent, said he welcomed any measure to help reduce teenage pregnancies, “provided this does not result in our children freely engaging in sexual activities at a very young age”.

Floyd Shivambu, ANCYL spokesperson, declined to ­comment.

ANCYL spokesperson FlOYD Shivambu declined to comment on the proposals.