Friday, March 19, 2010

Of 12 year olds and contraceptives...

Section 134 of the new Children’s Act No. 38 of 2005 came into effect on the 1st of July 2007, giving children as young as 12 the right to access contraceptives without parental consent. The section reads:
(1) No person may refuse-
(a) to sell condoms to a child over the age of 12 years; or
(b) to provide a child over the age of 12 years with condoms on request where such condoms are provided or distributed free of charge.

(2) Contraceptives other than condoms may be provided to a child on request by the child and without the consent of the parent or care-giver of the child if-
(a) the child is at least 12 years of age;
(b) proper medical advice is given to the child; and
(c) a medical examination is carried out on the child to determine whether there are any medical reasons why a specific contraceptive should not be provided to the child.

(3) A child who obtains condoms, contraceptives or contraceptive advice in terms of this Act is entitled to confidentiality in this respect, subject to section 105.
[Date of commencement of s. 134: 1 July 2007.]

On the day, Musa Mbere from the department of social development was quoted as saying, “The reason behind is to make sure that our law is aligned in terms of the age when children can access contraceptives. Children become sexually active at an early stage. It’s a reality we are dealing with.” The Children’s Rights Center (CRC) also applauded the government’s decision to put such legislation into effect. Spokesperson for the CRC, Noreen Ramsden told journalists that the legislations was ‘a big step forward’ for the children. Deputy director of the AIDS Foundation of South Africa, Nozuko Majola concurred and agreed that the act allowed for communities to start talking about sexual reproductive health more openly. The South African Human Rights Commission also came out in support of the legislation saying ‘it was an improvement in our legislation.’

While there was much lauding of the Act, I just wondered and am still wondering; Do any of the people who came out in support of this provision have children as young as 12? Would any parent actually allow their 12 year olds to buy contraceptives? Is there a parent who can actually give their 12 year old access to condoms where such child makes the request? Imagine this conversation between a parent and a child:
Child - Dad, please can you buy me a pack of condoms. The ones I had have run out.
Dad - Ok sonny, how many packs do you want?
Child - Mum, please can you buy me pregnancy pills on your way from work today.
Mum - Ok my angel, I sure will.
I personally find this legislation unbelievable and quite laughable. Unless there is a parent, with a 12 year old child, who can come out in the open in support of this legislation, I will keep believing that s134 of the new Children’s Act is a big joke!


  1. May I just quietly and carefully put my foot in it [ and I expect a ton of bricks will be dumped on my head because of it] and suggest that there is a CHASM between cultures operating here.......

    Or will poverty and apartheid again be blamed?

  2. Twelve year olds have sex - whatever your views on that may be, its happening. If you take into account the massive AIDS pandemic as well as the drastic socioeconomic implications of bringing a child into the world, don't you think that it's maybe a better idea than you make out that contraceptives be provided to children who make the decision to engage in sexual activity, despite what you may think of their decision itself.

  3. Bevan van JaarsveldMarch 19, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    You suggest that the fact that parents would disapprove of their 12 year old children buying condoms (and other contraceptives) makes the legislation laughable. But the precise point of the legislation is to prevent such disapproval from depriving children of condoms. In other words, the legislation was created on the assumption that many parents would not approve of their 12 year old children's having sex; and it attempts to address the problems created by this disapproval. It is therefore completely misguided to criticise the legislation on the basis that such parents would not support it. The legislation recognises that children will have sex regardless of their parents' (and other adults') disapproval, so such disapproval must be prevented from forcing children into having unsafe sex. The only remotely plausible argument against such legislation is that it will encourage children to have sex, but the dismal failures of 'abstinence only' approaches to sex education show that this argument fails.

  4. I must admit - I completely agree with the comments voiced here. I think I will put a post up on Monday with my thoughts on these provisions.

  5. And isn't intercourse with a girl under 16 still statutory rape?

  6. I read an article a few years ago which said that Stats SA had done extensive research and had placed the average age at which children start having sex at 12 years old. Given this factual reality, I think that the only responsible thing for government to do was to make contraceptives available to children that age. Children will have sex regardless of whether their parents approve. We should accept that and protect them from AIDS and pregnancy.

  7. This is outrageous! I did not know that there was such a law! I am a parent and I do not compromise my standards because i have mischiveous children. I tell my children don't do abc and that's it. That they continuously do otherwise will never make me compromise my standards. This rubbish piece of law destroys the moral fibre of our society, worse with a head of state who goes about having sex at every available opportunity.Parents should learn to instil discipline in their children and not to start giving them condoms and contraceptives because they have failed to instill discipline in them.I had my first sex when I was an adult and I knew what I was doing because I had been raised well and I am teachingmy children the same.No contraceptives for them until they are adults!

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