Date: July 1, 2024 Type: Country:

South Africa: Continued increase in child and teenage pregnancy cannot be ignored

The number of child and teenage pregnancies in South Africa continues to increase and is a crisis which cannot be ignored, Amnesty International South Africa said.

“It is important for us to continue highlighting the crisis we face so that there can be change – this issue needs to be tackled by the government and the people of South Africa together, however the state has a responsibility to create an enabling environment for these young and adolescent girls so that they do not fall through the cracks,” Amnesty International South Africa Executive Director Shenilla Mohamed said.

“Child and teenage pregnancy has a ripple effect on young girls as well as their futures within society. Some of these girls are forced to drop out of school, which in turn increases the cycle of poverty as well as the stigmatism that comes with it. Other factors such as gender inequality, gender-based violence (GBV), insufficient comprehensive sexuality education, substance abuse as well as poor access to contraceptives and healthcare all play a role.”

In collaboration with Woman and Home and Bona magazines, Amnesty International South Africa has recently launched the #ScanTheScar campaign. These magazines urge readers to “scan the scar” — an image of a caesarean scar on a young girl’s stomach embedded with a Spotify code. When scanned, the code directs readers to a Spotify playlist featuring real stories of child and teenage pregnancies, collected with the assistance of Children of Success and Women & Men Against Child Abuse. Female poets and artists, Lebo Mashile, Koleka Putuma and Thembe Mvula, narrate these stories, conveying the full range of emotions and experiences of three young girls.

“Many young girls are not physically or emotionally developed enough for childbirth. This often leads to complications,” Shenilla Mohamed said.

“The stories told by these incredible poets, hopefully brings home the seriousness of child and teenage pregnancy. According to Stats SA over 105,000 girls between 10 and 19 gave birth between April 2022 and March 2023. These numbers are shocking, but we need to stop seeing them as just numbers and realise that these are real people.”

Amnesty International South Africa is urging people to take a stand and demand action by writing to President Cyril Ramaphosa calling on him to ensure the incoming government works towards addressing the high levels of child and teenage pregnancy in South Africa.

“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,” Shenilla Mohamed said.

“It is time that President Ramaphosa and the government he leads take this issue of child and teenage pregnancy seriously and protect girls’ rights to health, information, education, equality and to live freely from GBV and discrimination.”

We encourage all who live in South Africa to help us play a pivotal role in raising awareness about the issue and to take action on Amnesty International South Africa’s website – calling on the government to ensure that there is real change so our young girls are protected and capacitated with information to make informed decisions about their bodies.


Amnesty International South Africa in partnership with Joe Public United, and with the support of Children of Success and Women & Men Against Child Abuse, continues to shine a light on the crisis of child and teenage pregnancy. 

The #ScanTheScar campaign is a follow on from the 2022 #TheRealMaternityIssue campaign.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Genevieve Quintal, Media and Communications Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 (0)64 890 9224;