For those who play, make them pay!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Figures released by the Department of Basic Education this month show that 18 pupils in Grade 3 became pregnant in KZN in 2008 and 2009.

Nationally, 94 875 pupils between grade 3 and grade 12 became pregnant during that period.

The report was greeted by the usual howls of outrage speaking of declining moral values as well as berating those taking practical steps to minimise those pregnancies.

For example, The Daily News and its sister papers reported that: "Education experts in KwaZulu-Natal have expressed concern at the distribution of condoms in primary schools, saying it could send the wrong message to pupils.

"They warned that instead of solving the problem of pupils falling pregnant, handing out the contraceptives would encourage them to engage in sexual intercourse."

The fact is that morality has not much to do with it. Sex feels good.

It might seem a rather obvious statement to make but those of us who are advancing in years tend to forget the effect that hormones have on every species. It's the reason why a preying mantis will risk getting his head chewed off (literally) to get his rocks off. It's the reason why salmon will swim upstream in spite of grizzly bears waiting to scoop them up for lunch.

And it's the reason why our president will engage in a strategically inappropriate liaison with an HIV positive woman young enough to be his daughter.

As a species across cultures, we have always put in societal checks and balances to minimise the negative side effects of the instinct of homo sapiens to reproduce. Coming of age rituals (for example the initiation ceremonies of the amaXhosa), dress codes, and the institution of marriage itself were designed to this end.

And crucial to this is the idea of age of consent – the understanding that no matter what your body might say to you about whether or not you are ready to breed, society will require you to reach a particular level of mental development before allowing you to give in to your primal instincts.

This is why we have the concept of statutory rape. It doesn't matter whether you wanted it or not – in South Africa if you are under 16 years of age, and you have sex, it's rape.

By my reasoning, even if half of the 94 875 cases of pregnancy reported by the Department of Basic Education involved girls under 16, that's still close to 50 000 cases of statutory rape.

My question is: how many of those cases were investigated by the authorities and how many charges were laid?

This is not rocket science. For every girl who becomes pregnant, there is a boy who has had sex with her.

Instead, we have this utterly ridiculous situation where any girl popping out a child automatically receives a guaranteed income for the next 14 years funded by the taxpayer in the form of a child support grant. There is zero accountability required.

As for the male offspring of such liaisons who grow up without the benefit of strong male role models, they are a ticking time bomb. They will be the serial rapists and murderers of twenty years from now – only in much larger numbers.

We need to put a stop to it now. And it's simple.

If both the girl and the boy having sex are under age, the parents of the boy need to contribute to the upkeep of the child. And as soon as he starts earning, he must contribute to the upkeep of the child.

If the girl is under 16 and the boy is over 18, he immediately needs to go to jail and the asset forfeiture unit needs to sell off everything he owns to pay for the upkeep of the baby.

Watch how quickly the problem will go away.