On 5 May, the Department of Basic Education released a draft policy on HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and tuberculosis in schools for public comment. The draft policy recommends providing condoms to all learners.
Malema, who fell pregnant at 20 years old in her matric year, says having condoms would have been a blessing as a teen.
“Been pregnant while still at school was a misery,” said the 36-year-old Soshanguve mum. “It was my first sexual encounter with no family planning or contraceptives.”
“I never through to discussing the impact of having sex with my boyfriend,” she told OurHealth. “I ended up being pregnant and life was difficult.”
Malema said classmates laughed at her. At home, things weren’t much better as family members belittled her.
“(My family) used to refer to me as ‘the pregnant one,’” she said. “They used to say how the were saving to take care of my baby every time I asked for some goodies.”
Most stressful was Malema’s constant worry about whether the baby’s father and her family would support her when the baby came.
Leah Songwane had her daughter when she was 18 years old and in Grade 11. She ultimately failed Grade 11 and had to repeat the year. Both mothers say they wished they had waited to have children and that is why they support condoms in schools
“There are problems like teenage pregnancy, STIs as well as HIV and AIDS that are connected to unprotected sex,” she said. “We cannot deny our children the freedom of choosing (to be safe) when it comes to sex.”
Songwane says she was so keen for her own daughter to avoid teen pregnancy that she had open discussions about safe sex with not only her daughter but her daughter’s boyfriend.
“I also allow my daughter to bring her boyfriend during the day to my house so that I can teach all of them about delaying sexual intercourse, faithfulness, contraceptives and condom usage,” she said.
The Soshanguve mums encouraged parents to talk to their children and about sex and keep lines of communication open.
An edited, abridged version of this story was first published in the Daily Sun newspaper.