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Another 9-year-old girl, this time from a farm in Zimbabwe, Bindura, is six months pregnant

Another 9-year-old girl, this time from a farm in Zimbabwe, Bindura, is six months pregnant after two 17-year-old brothers from the same farm are said to have raped her.

The report comes right after a nine-year-old Tsholotsho girl gave birth to a baby girl at the United Bulawayo Hospitals this week. She had also been raped by a close relative, according to the report.

According to the most recent news from Bindura, the third-grade student is being treated at Bindura Hospital by the Social Development Department.

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The people who are accused of raping have been arrested, and the police say they are helping them with their investigations.

Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, a spokesman for the national police, said that two teenage boys had been arrested.

“We are looking into the case of a nine-year-old girl who is now six months pregnant and was allegedly raped by two 17-year-olds at a farm in Bindura. “This is terrible, and the police are looking into it,” he said.

Dr. Admire Murongazvombo, the Provincial Medical Director for Mashonaland Central, also said that the story was true.

“We are working with the Social Development Department to tie up all the loose ends and make it easier for the child to be placed in a safe house, which is very important in this case,” he said.

“The reports we got say that she is, in fact, nine years old. She is fine, stable, and calm. We want her to be closer to a place where she can get prenatal care and be watched.”

“She still has a few months until she gives birth. “Her gynaecologist has already told her that she should have a Caesarean section,” Dr. Murongazvombo said.

Child marriages and early pregnancies are on the rise in Zimbabwe. More than a third of girls are married before they turn 18, and some are married before they turn 15.

During COVID lockdowns, the number of teen pregnancies in Africa skyrocketed, but it is possible to stop this.

Amanda Nkosi, who lives in South Africa, is only 17 years old, but she is already a mother and has HIV. This is because she “did things that teenagers do” without having access to accurate health information or birth control.

She found out she had HIV when a new clinic for young people opened near her home in Durban, a coastal city, and offered her a test when she went to get birth control. She liked the clinic because it helped her and didn’t make her feel judged. She now teaches other teens about HIV and their bodies.

During COVID lockdowns, the number of teen pregnancies in Africa skyrocketed, but it is possible to stop this.

South Africa has one of the highest HIV rates in the world, and most of the people who are affected by this are young women. Meanwhile, COVID-19 lockdowns and school closures hurt the country’s fight against teen pregnancy. During the pandemic lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, the number of teen pregnancies went up all over the continent.

Gauteng, the province with the most people in South Africa, saw a 60% rise in teen pregnancies between April 2020 and March 2021. During this time, more than 23,226 girls between the ages of 10 and 18 gave birth, compared to 14,577 girls during the same time last year.

At a webinar put on by Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and Health Systems Trust to talk about how to stop teen pregnancy in South Africa, Nkosi told her story.

CHAI country director Dr. Yogan Pillay called most teen pregnancies “abuse” and said that young people in southern Africa were much more likely to get HIV and other STDs as well as mental health problems if they started having sex at a young age.

“Children are also more likely to have babies who are born early, weigh less at birth, and die soon after birth,” said Pillay, who used to work in the health department of the country.

“Teenage mothers have a higher rate of depression after giving birth, and they are less likely to start breastfeeding. Teenage moms are less likely to finish high school, more likely to live in poverty, and more likely to have kids who often have health and development issues, he said.

Pillay said that a systematic review of what causes teen pregnancies in sub-Saharan Africa found that sexual coercion, low or wrong use of contraceptives, lack of communication and support from parents, low socioeconomic status, and dropping out of school were the most common reasons.

Taking care of these things would help stop teen pregnancies and help teen parents avoid more unwanted pregnancies.

Lockdown pregnancies on the rise

During COVID-19 lockdowns and school closures, the number of teen pregnancies rose in many African countries, and worried health policymakers are struggling to find ways to stop teen pregnancies.

Uganda’s 2016 Demographic and Health Survey found that one in four girls aged 15 to 19 had already given birth. The Makerere University School of Public Health says that during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, teen births went up by 28%. The health ministry says that 45 percent of births in Uganda’s eastern Busoga sub-region were to girls under the age of 17.

The Ugandan government’s plan to stop teen pregnancy has been to teach students about the benefits of not getting pregnant. Comprehensive education about sexuality has been banned in schools, and abortion is against the law.

But because teen pregnancy is such a big problem, some Ugandan parents want schools to teach teens more about sex and give teens access to birth control.

Teen pregnancy has also gone up in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Zambia because of lockdowns. A recent Kenyan study, for example, found that girls under 17 in Siaya County who were under lockdown containment measures were twice as likely to get pregnant and three times as likely to drop out of school as girls who were not under lockdown.

To deal with the problem, UNFPA is leading a four-year programme called 2gether 4SRHR in 10 countries in east and southern Africa. UNAIDS, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization are also part of the program. With help from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), it aims to improve sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services in the region.

UNFPA says, “This includes expanding services that are client-centered, quality-assured, integrated, and sustainable in SRH, HIV, and sexual and gender-based violence, and giving young people the power to exercise their SRH rights.”

“In many countries in the region, teenage and young mothers have a higher rate of unplanned pregnancies and less access to prenatal and postnatal care. Those living with HIV also stick to their treatment plans less well and have a higher viral load,” says a UN agency.

“Every week, about 3,500 young girls and women in eastern and southern Africa get HIV for the first time.”

Teen mothers also often quit school and don’t come back.

No more pilots

In South Africa, young people don’t need their parents’ permission to get birth control or end an unwanted pregnancy before 20 weeks. This is different from most other African countries.

But many teens don’t go to clinics because the people who work there are too judgmental. Because of this, youth-friendly clinics have been praised for a long time as one way to stop teens from getting pregnant.

But Dr. Thato Chidarikire, who is the acting chief director of child, youth, and school health at the South African Ministry of Health, said that there weren’t enough resources.

“Not all primary health care facilities offer services that are good for young people and have clinic hours that work for them. There is a high turnover of trained staff, and there aren’t enough resources to support the programmes that focus on the health of young people,” she admitted.

What works has “considerable evidence”
Dr. Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli of the WHO said that there is a lot of proof that there are ways to reduce teen pregnancy that work.

“We need programmes that are big and last a long time. And it’s great that more and more countries are running these kinds of programmes so we can learn from them,” he said.

Chandra-Mouli from the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research Unit said, “There were five parts to all of these programs.”

“First, they put scaling up on the national agenda. Second, they offered a package of services that included more than just sexual and reproductive services or education about sexuality. Third, they put money on the table from both inside and outside the company and took care of the scaling up. Fourth, they worked to get people on board with the program. When resistance came up, they were ready for it and dealt with it. And finally, they worked strategically to make sure the project would last.

Not really her name.

Image Credits: UNFPA RwandaUNFPA.

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