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Opuwo full of teenage mothers

Opuwo full of teenage mothers

Nathanael Heita

 

AN outsider entering Opuwo town in the Kunene Region is immediately struck by the seemingly high number of teenagers who are either pregnant or carrying babies, a fact said to have a link with extreme poverty and people clinging to a culture that considers the use of contraception a taboo.

 

It is not uncommon to find a mother who is as young as 14-years old. Many sit at street corners or in front of shopping malls to breastfeed their babies.

 

Informanté interviewed some of them and all said that they were either going to or coming from a scheduled hospital follow-up.

 

Residents said that widespread poverty was the reason behind the high number of teenage pregnancies.

 

“Poverty is what is driving girls to become sexually active at a very young age. That is a way of making a living. They are given cash or food when they sleep with men who, in some cases, are old enough to be their grandfathers,” said a local youth activist.

 

She noted that under such circumstances, teenage pregnancies are unavoidable because most local people consider the use of contraception as being contrary to their culture.

 

She further said that alcohol abuse is also very rampant, making young girls even more vulnerable to sexual predators.

 

Parents appear to have given up their responsibility of caring for their kids, who spend most of their time at drinking spots.

 

Picture for illustrative purposes only

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