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Teenage Pregnancy: Who’s to Blame?

20 March 2013
Dintle, Scelo on Scandal!

Scandal! actors, Mbulelo Ndlazilwana and Mapaseka Koetle, share their thoughts on the upsurge in teenage pregnancy around the country.

A whopping 45 000 schoolgirls around the country get pregnant a year. This is the story that caused an outrage across the country last week. Incidentally, e.tv aired Scandal’s teenage pregnancy storyline in the same week and subsequently started the long overdue conversation around teenage pregnancy.

Scandal! extras coordinator Priscilla Hughes said the show had decided to do a storyline on the issue because teenage pregnancy has become a big problem, “It feels like a virus – it’s spreading like HIV, and we need to find a way to slow it down.”

In the storyline, after missing her period, Dintle discovers that she is pregnant. When her boyfriend Scelo finds out, the two agree that she has to have an abortion. However, Dintle is denied an abortion at the clinic and they decide to keep the baby. Scelo realizes that he has no choice but to tell his parents, but Dintle's aunts beat him to it.

We caught up with Scandal! actors Mbulelo Ndlazilwana (Scelo) and Mapaseka Koetle (Dintle) who tell us what they think is the reason behind the rise in teenage pregnancy.

What do enjoy the most about playing your character?

Mbulelo Ndlazilwana: I really enjoy playing this character because it’s different from what I have done before. The only thing I find challenging is that I haven’t experienced anything like this before. I have never gotten my girlfriend pregnant so it’s hard trying to portray those emotions.

Mapaseka Koetle: I enjoy playing the character because she’s younger than me. I’m 24, she’s 18. When I was her age I never spoke to my boyfriend about sex. I also have never been pregnant before. In the show I’m more exposed to sex whereas in real life, while growing up, sex was a taboo subject for me. So my character is more advanced than me – and she’s the initiator.

Last week the Sowetan revealed that 45 000 pupils in South Africa fall pregnant every year. Why do you think the number is so high?

Mbulelo Ndlazilwana: I think it’s because more teenagers are having sex at a younger age. They’re exposed to more sex on TV. It’s not as taboo as it was when we were growing up. Most teenagers are experimenting with sex. These days, teenage relationships are about the physical and less about hanging out. Instead of going to watch a movie, teenagers are going to each other’s houses to have sex. They see the adults – their role models – having sex and so they think they can also do it. People who should lead by example are showing us the wrong thing.

Mapaseka Koetle: It’s not because there is no education. They are exposed to a lot more information about safe sex on various media including the internet. But I think that to a certain extent social media is to blame for the rise in teenage pregnancy. They see these images on Facebook and they want to experiment.

Who do you think is responsible for this problem?

Mbulelo Ndlazilwana: We’re all responsible – the teachers, the parents and the kids. But I think the teenagers need to start listening to what adults tell them.

Mapaseka Koetle: I think sometimes the doctors and nurses who give them attitude when they ask for contraceptives are also to blame. We know they are sexually active, so the question we need to ask ourselves as South Africans is; what are we going to do about it? How do we make sure they practice safe sex?    

Last night Dintle's relatives arrived at the Ngemas to tell them their son impregnated their daughter.

Will they ask the Ngema family to pay damages? Watch Scandal! tonight at 7:30pm.