Pregnant babies
The pregnancy of a Cape Town 10-year-old is a symptom of the worst of our society’s attitudes to girls.
(Getty Images)
What’s wrong with South Africans?

Why can’t we protect our children?

The latest in the endless parade of proof that we are losing this important battle is the pregnancy of a 10-year-old in Cape Town as reported in the Cape Argus. The baby’s father is allegedly the girl’s 21-year-old uncle.

The story has become a familiar one – the little girl was in love with her abuser, believing they had a special relationship. This sort of grooming by an adult sexual abuser results in an unnatural fast forward on the gradual process that sexual awareness should be.

According to Health24’s Great South African Sex Survey, only 11,38% of female respondents had masturbated for the first time under the age of 13. Girls of this age are slowly awakening to their sexual identities. Even if they have developed physically, they are far from emotionally ready for a full sexual relationship.

And it’s illegal. The age of consent is 16 in South Africa. So a man who has sex with a girl under that age can be prosecuted and found guilty of rape, whether she was a willing partner or not.

It’s shocking and frightening that families can be broken apart in this way. That a young girl and her baby face at best a challenging future, because of a person who respects neither law nor morality.

There’s no way to be comfortable with statistics that say a child is raped every three minutes in South Africa.

What can we as people who love and want to protect our country’s children do? We have to refuse to turn a blind eye. To a certain extent we need trust the law but also hold it to sharp account for what happens in this and similar cases.

Under the scrutiny of people who care, girls like the one in this case can at least be noticed and remembered.

You can help by being informed and aware.

Read more by Adele Hamilton

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