‘Open Books & Close Your Legs,’ South African Minister tells Schoolgirls

During a visit to a secondary school, regional health minister Phophi Ramathuba addressed schoolgirls in an attempt to advocate abstinence and lower adolescent pregnancy rates.

On Wednesday, January 12, the Limpopo province’s health minister paid a visit to Gwenane secondary school in the Sekgakgapeng community to commemorate the start of the new academic year.

“To the girl child I say: Open your books, and close your legs. Don’t open your legs, open your books. Thank you very much,” she told students.

She went on to say that older males were luring girls in with luxuries like expensive wigs and smart phones.

However, social media users slammed the remark, asking why it was just addressed at women. After a video of the lecture was circulated on social media, the remarks generated outrage. Ms Ramathuba defended the message, claiming that it was also directed towards boys.

“This is not an appropriate way to talk to kids about abuse, sex and consent”, one social media user wrote.

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Opposition politician Siviwe Gwarube called the remarks “deeply problematic”.

“This was an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with these learners about consent… Instead you victim blame. Place undue pressure on girls”, she said in a message on Twitter.

Ms Ramathuba told TimesLIVE in South Africa that her statement had been taken out of context and that it was meant towards boys as well.

“I told the boys to focus on their education and not sleep with girls,” she said.

She added that her constituents in Limpopo “appreciated the message”.

“They were even saying that they were afraid to say these things and thanked me for calling a spade a spade,” she said.

According to government figures, in 2013 nearly 100,000 teenagers became pregnant in South Africa. And about 33,400 girls under the age of 17 would give birth in South Africa by 2020.

According to Save the Children, a lack of comprehensive sex education, as well as inexpensive and appropriate health treatments, are important contributors in teen pregnancy in South Africa.

Source: BBC & TimesLive

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