SOUTH AFRICA: You are still my child even if you are a mother
"Other parents choose to give [their daughters] away for free to the boys [in marriage]"
Johannesburg, 21 May 2008 (PlusNews) - Rachel Dlamini is the chairperson of Kwadedangendlale Secondary School's governing body in Zola, Soweto, just outside Johannesburg. Her daughter, aged 17, has just given birth to her first child, so Dlamini now fetches her assignments from the school and keeps in touch with her teachers. She says the pregnancy has brought them closer together, and she has become a resource to other children at the school who look for guidance on sex.
"I used to get shy, but I want to help, so I even talk to the boys. I tell them, 'If you have an affair, please condomise. My sons are 22, 23 years old. You can say to them: 'You mustn't do it'. But I tell them, 'I don't want to raise another child'.
"I say to them: 'Who is going to support these children because you are not working?' But these kids want to experiment; it's not because they don't know [about sex].
"I saw there was something going on with [my daughter], but it was still hard for me to ask. I know she's a broad girl but there was something I didn't understand going on with her stomach.
"Every time I would try to bring it up, she would get very aggressive and leave until, finally, one day it was just the two of us in the house. I took the key and locked us in. I told her there was nowhere to go and we were going to talk.
"I said, 'This thing is here, and it is not going away'. I asked who was the father. I was crying because we, as a family, had dreams for her. She said she was four months pregnant but she didn't have a four-month stomach.
"As soon as we walked in [at the clinic], the [nursing] sister looked at her and said, 'You? You are six months pregnant.' I nearly collapsed.
"My first thought had been, 'We are going to do an abortion if she had been two to three months pregnant, because I am not working and you don't know if the father will be there, [supporting the child]'.
"I thought, 'If she has the baby, she will suffer'. But at six months, I said, 'Now God will provide'. Fortunately the father has been there and he has been very supportive.
"Other parents choose to give [their daughters] away for free to the boys [in marriage], but I told my daughter: 'Just because you have a child doesn't mean you are a mother now. You are still my child, and if there is anything that worries you, you must talk to me."
Theme (s): Gender - PlusNews, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews),
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]