Teen mum says she fell victim to broken promises
When she got pregnant, a teenager from Stinkwater outside Hammanskraal says her older boyfriend’s attention and financial support disappeared.
Emily,* 16, says was on her way to school when Sipho Mlotshwa first approached her and a friend for their phone numbers.
“He used to call to ask me out to buy me food and gave me money to buy things at school,” Emily said. “I enjoyed that.”
She claims that she used to spend weekends with Mlotshwa and thought that he might help her escape the poverty she and her family live in.
“He would then take me to his home where he would sleep with me until Monday morning,” she told OurHealth. “He would give me money… between R40 and R150 to buy whatever I liked.”
But now heavily pregnant, Emily says Mlotshwa no longer wants anything to do with her.
“He doesn’t want me close to him,” she alleges. “If I call him, he gives his other girlfriend the phone so that she can swear at me.”
[quote float=”left”]“He would give me money… between R40 and R150 to buy whatever I liked”
Although Emily’s family has threatened to report Mlotshwa to the local police for statutory rape, Emily was of age to consent to having sex with the man as a 16-year-old, according to University of Pretoria’s Attorney Carina du Toit, who works at the university’s Centre for Child Law.
“All I need is for him to support me and my unborn child,” Emily said.
Mlotshwa, in his 30s, did not deny being the child’s father when approached by OurHealth and has promised to begin supporting the child.
For years, South Africa has cautioned girls like Emily to avoid relationships with older men like Mlotshwa who were often framed as “sugar daddies.” In March, Africa Centre researcher Guy Harling presented findings from a study that followed about 2,400 HIV-negative women in rural Hlabisa, KwaZulu-Natal.
Presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in the United States, the study found that on average, women in their late teens and 20s had sexual partners about five years older than themselves.
The research also found that among these age groups, there were no significant differences in the HIV risk between women who reported sexual partners closer in age versus those who reported sexual partners who were much older.
The research led activists to argue that sugar daddy campaigns are not based on research. However, the HIV risk of girls between the ages of 14 and 19 years continues to be seven times higher than that of male peers, according to the South African National AIDS Council. – Health-e News Service.
*Name changed to protect the identity of the child