What’s It All About? MTV Shuga Presents: 16 and Pregnant
Tonight on SABC 1, MTV Shuga Presents: 16 and Pregnant will hit your screens at 10pm, showcasing the stories of three Mzansi teenagers…
The show first premiered on MTV Base on 31st May and was seen by people all over the world. The initial showing, as well as the version on YouTube, sparked a whirlwind of discussion amongst our viewers.
Not only did the documentary show the three teens trying to navigate this world as young mothers, but it also blew the lid on teenage pregnancy in South Africa.
Despite the excitement surrounding the programme, it was met with some criticism, as people thought that the girls were being exploited.
The reality is that this is happening in SA; young girls are falling pregnant and not enough is being done to address the situation or create awareness around it. Most of us know at least one person who fell pregnant as a teenager; whether it was a family member, friend or someone in the community. I personally know some people but I have never been one to judge, because I do not understand the circumstances that led them to their decisions. The episode on MTV Shuga exposed these realities by speaking to teenagers who know first-hand what the impact of falling pregnant at a young age looks like.
The criticism of the show on social media is exactly how some people in our communities feel about the topic of teenage pregnancy; people are dismissive when the topic is brought up or are quick to pass judgement. Therein lies the issue: we do not want to talk about it! By having open conversations about this, we could be educating young girls AND boys on practicing safe sex and the various methods available to them.
Another problem is that people think the responsibility to practice safe sex rests solely on young girls. When it comes to teenage pregnancy they’re the ones who get shamed whilst young boys aren’t being educated on the importance of using condoms. Shows like #16andPregnant serve as vital reminders that this is the reality of many teenagers and that more needs to be done to educate people and create awareness on the rising number of adolescent pregnancies. Not only does it place young girls in difficult, life-changing situations, but it also affects their education.
What Can Be Done?
What can we do to change the way people see teenage pregnancies in SA? One step could be changing the discussion so that young boys appreciate their responsibility. Even though it is a girl or young woman who falls pregnant, both partners are responsible for the outcome.
Another step may be increasing education around contraception in schools and homes. It can be difficult to discuss these private matters with family, friends and teachers, but the more information we have then the more control we have over our personal lives. Having better knowledge about our sexual and reproductive health means that we are all able to take the necessary steps to decide our own futures.
Stigma is also a big issue. Many learners leave school and never return after becoming pregnant, due to the judgements they face from those around them. Being more understanding may encourage learners to stay in school and complete their studies, helping them gain the information they need to take charge of their lives.
What do YOU think needs to be done? Is enough being done to educate people on teenage pregnancies?? Not sure how you feel about #16andPregnant? See for yourself on SABC1 at 10pm, Tuesday 25th July…