Patrick Craine


‘Mandatory’ contraception for 12-year-olds: South Africa ruling party’s youth wing proposal

Patrick Craine

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 10, 2011 ( – The youth wing of South Africa’s ruling political party is proposing that the country make “initiation” into contraception mandatory for girls as young as twelve as part of an effort to cut teen pregnancies, reports City Press.

The “perennial societal problem” of teen pregnancy “calls for the government to introduce a programme that will combine both abstinence from sex and mandatory initiation into contraception for all adolescent girls from the age of twelve,” reads the African National Congress Youth League’s discussion paper on education and health for its 24th national congress in June.

The proposal would likely involve hormonal contraceptives such as the pill, which remains popular despite being labeled a carcinogen by the World Health Organization.  The pill has also been linked, especially when introduced at early ages, to infertility as well as lethal blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.

According to City Press, however, Katharine Hall, senior researcher for the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town, says the proposal could contravene the Children’s Act. Hall observed that 12-year-olds already have access to contraception under the Act, and questioned making it “mandatory.”

“It smacks of an authoritarian approach which is contrary to promoting safe sex behaviour that will not only curb teen ­pregnancies but also HIV/Aids ­infections.”

The Youth League’s discussion paper calls for increased access to abortion, an “expansion of youth friendly [abortion] services,” and asks for a debate on the legalization of prostitution.

The African National Congress has ruled South Africa since it first came to power in 1994 under the leadership of former President Nelson Mandela.  In 1996, under Mandela, the party brought in state-funded abortion-on-demand.

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