Date: June 24, 2024


In South Africa, between April 2017 and September 2021, the number of births to child and adolescent girls between 10 and 14 years of age increased by 48.7%.

On 2 January 2024, the Health Minister announced that at least 190 teenage girls had given birth on New Year’s Day compared to over 145 recorded births to teenagers on Christmas Day 2023. The youngest mothers were 14-year-olds from KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure the government works together in addressing the high levels of child and teenage pregnancy in South Africa. Your voice, combined with others who feel the same, is a cry impossible to ignore. 

Dear President Cyril Ramaphosa,

I am concerned that early pregnancy in South Africa is not being sufficiently addressed by the government you lead. While some steps to develop policy have been taken and additional interventions announced, more must be done. It is a social, health and economic issue affecting our most precious resource: our children.

In 2022, 3,598 children aged 10-14 years gave birth. According to StatsSA, in the same year 101,569 teenagers gave birth, which accounts for 11.1% of all babies that were born in South Africa that year.

I know this is a societal issue that needs to be tackled by the government and the people together.

However, the state has a responsibility to create an enabling environment for people to make autonomous and informed decisions. This includes eliminating harmful stereotypes and discrimination, and destigmatising adolescent pregnancy and abortion. There also needs to be access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and information, the promotion of reproductive justice, and participation in decision-making and policy-development of those directly affected by the issue.

There needs to be effective, age-appropriate and good quality comprehensive sexuality education and life skills programmes delivered by well-trained teachers. Research shows that improved knowledge on HIV and pregnancy prevention, decreases risk-taking and improves attitudes to condom use.

In addition to this, gender-based violence must be tackled as one of the root causes of early pregnancy. In an event where the pregnancy occurs as a result of rape and statutory rape, cases must be reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS). The criminal justice system, including the SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority, must respond in a timeous, efficient and effective manner to these cases.

Mr President, it is time that you and your government take this issue of child and teenage pregnancy seriously and protect rights to health, information, education, equality and to live freely from GBV and discrimination.

Yours Sincerely,

Amnesty International South Africa supporter