Zimbabwe records 350,000 teenage pregnancies in 3 years: UN agency
Zimbabwe recorded close to 350,000 teen pregnancies on girls between the ages of 10 and 19 in three years, an official has said.
Blessing Nyagumbo, the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) adolescent sexual health reproductive specialist in Zimbabwe told journalists on Tuesday that the country recorded a steep increase in pregnancies among girls and teenagers between 2019 and 2022.
“Between 2019 and 2022, there were about 1,7 million pregnancies recorded in Zimbabwe and out of that, 21 percent happened amongst adolescents that are between the ages of 10 to 19 years and that translates to around 350,000 teenage pregnancies,” he said.
“That tells you how devastating the rate of teenage pregnancies in Zimbabwe is.”
Nyagumbo said sexual reproductive health education in schools has been identified as key in raising awareness and subsequently reducing cases of sexual exploitation of minors.
“One of the preventing strategic interventions that we support as UNFPA is strengthening the delivery of sexuality education in schools,” he said.
The high number of teenage pregnancies continues in the country despite the recent enactment of laws that outlaw sex with minors who are below 18.
In 2018, about 3,000 girls dropped out of school because of pregnancy.
In 2019, the number remained relatively steady. However, in 2020, the number rose to 4,770 mostly being students who were prematurely forced to leave school due to pregnancy.
In 2021, it skyrocketed as about 5,000 students got pregnant in that year’s first two months.
The youngest mother to ever fall pregnant in Zimbabwe was an 8-year-old girl, who fell pregnant last year after being raped allegedly by two 17-year-old boys.
The alarming statistics of teenage pregnancies have been attributed to lax enforcement, widespread poverty, and cultural and religious practices.