MDC-T legislator Dr Thokozani Khuphe has lobbied the government to assist young girls who fell pregnant during the course of the Covid-19 induced national lockdown period in order to enable them to sustain themselves.
Speaking in Parliament, Wednesday, Dr Khuphe decried that most of these girls fall on hard times as parents disown when they fall pregnant.
Recently, the government announced that 4 959 girls fell pregnant while 1 174 cases of child marriages were reported during the lockdown period.
“The Covid-19 pandemic rolled back the limited progress we had on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls to the extent that during the lockdown, we experienced an increase in gender-based violence and a sharp increase in teenage pregnancies,” said Dr Khuphe.
Deputy Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small to Medium Enterprise Development Jennifer Mhlanga noted that the ministry will look into the issue and ensure that assistance is rendered to the girls.
Minister Mhlanga said at the moment the ministry is seized with issues of senior citizens but however, there are several government shelters where these young girls can find assistance.
“The Ministry has in place a cushion fund but I would like to express our appreciation for Dr Khupe’s question because we were mainly dealing with senior citizens and senior women. Our consideration for this group of young women was not really there, so we would like to capture what has been suggested,” she said.
“We promise that the financial support that we have been given by the Government will also target these young women. Over and above that, we also have shelters that also take care of these young women such as Musasa and the Spotlight. My Ministry has rolled out shelters throughout the provinces and we continue to do that in other districts.”