Teen baby daddies should walk the talk

NTOMBINI SEMELLA

MASERU – Yes, that is the foreboding headache some parents with school going girls are staring at this spring. This perennial problem will visit many households as it is a given that some teenagers will emerge from this bitterly cold Winter with bulging bellies.

Some girls who were enticed into engaging in unprotected sex around the Christmas period are now approaching motherhood and as norm has it, will have to drop out of school to nurse mint new babies. Minus the baby daddies – more often than not, teenagers themselves barely out of their diapers.

The question that then arises is: If a girl and a boy play hide-and-seek together and a baby is conceived, why should it be the girl alone who suffers the consequences? Is it the girl’s doing alone? Should not the system that bars pregnant girls from school be widened to include the seers of those pregnancies? The saying that “it takes two people to tango (and make a baby)” has become a cliché but what is mindboggling is that society is still willing to give the male paramour a new lease on life, while condemning the woman.

This is notwithstanding the plainly hidden fact that equality before the law and punishing both transgressors will go a long way in curbing unwanted pregnancies. It is not rocket science that punishing both parties will compel teenagers to engage their brains first before satisfying the urges of their loins. The fact that boys don’t get pregnant should not absolve them of wrongdoing and reduce their culpability for the resulting pregnancy. They too ought to suffer the consequences with their girlfriends.

’Masophia Matsimane, a teacher at Likuena High School in Mohale’s Hoek thinks both the girl and the boy play equal parts in a pregnancy. “It’s just sad that for girls, nature has it that they have to carry and show the pregnancy. In most cases especially with teenagers, its boys who initiate sex and girls just give in to show that they ‘love’ these boys. I think looking back at communities where we live and in schools, girls are taught more than boys about the consequences of unsafe sex.

“Maybe it’s time that boys also got the same lessons that they are 50 percent responsible for the girl’s pregnancy so they must play their part when there is an unplanned child coming.” Gift September, an 18-year-old student at Martie Du Plessis High School in Bloemfontein agrees society must find a way to force boys to get involved in issues surrounding the birth of their child.

“A boy should be involved in terms of being there for the child unlike what we see today whereby young mothers are left to fend for the pregnancy and baby alone after the young father has escaped his responsibilities. “Boys should be involved because they put the girl in that position after promising them the world. Boys should take responsibility because they chose to have unprotected sex,” September says.

Moliehi Mapesela, 17, of Methodist High School accuses society of being unrepentantly patriarchal in that it still protects boys at the expense of girls. “It’s not like the girls impregnate themselves. The way our society works is utterly revolting. We should support our girls and build them up. As it is we judge them for keeping what the system calls ‘bastard babies’ and have them face the music alone. It’s totally wrong! Teen moms need to have voices and they must be heard.”

Mapesela says it is surprising how society generally refuses to honour women and yet expect young teen mothers to carry the whole burden by themselves. “They have to face the embarrassment alone which is totally unfair but you don’t see them hiding. Yes, they do walk to the clinic for ante natal care regardless of how harsh the nurses are to them while the so called ‘baby daddies’ fail to own up to the ‘works of their own manhood’,” said Mapesela.

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