DUT BECOMING A MATERNITY WARD
By: Sinenjabulo Sithole
Inconsistent use of contraceptives, abortion and frequent sexual engagement top the list of factors leading to student pregnancy.
Student pregnancy at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) is said to be growing annually, especially amongst first year students.
Substance abuse and partying are the common reasons that lead to spontaneous sex and unplanned pregnancy.
Multiple partners and “sugar daddies” have been seen to be the number one reason students do not practise safe sex.
“Some students complain of allergic reactions to latex, the material used in condoms, and this has perhps contributed to the steep increase in the institution’s abortion rate,” said student nurse Ntando Mbewu.
The institution has dealt with more than one incident of illegal abortion in residences, and one first year student gave birth in Essenwood Residence last year.
Senior Residence Officer, Sithuthukile Mashabane (Mamsthuthu), said that the DUT pregnancy rate is worsening daily.
“We don’t allow students who are in their third trimester to live in student accomodation because they don’t have facilities for pregnant girls,” said Mashabane.
“But some students hide their pregnancy, which is not safe for both the mother and baby because our clinics aren’t open 24/7,” she added.
Sister Mbewu said that not all pregnancies are unplanned as we also have students over the age of 19 that are, “considered as young adults,” and some are married.
She says the institution’s clinics provide all kinds of contraceptives, sex education in residences and condom/pregnancy awareness, frequently.
“They have access to condoms and students do take them from our shelves- maybe it isn’t that they don’t use condoms but that they can’t use them correctly,” ventured Mbewu.
Research has shown that student pregnancy at tertiary institutions worldwide are increasing every year, despite the assumption that students have sufficient knowledge of the risks of unprotected sex.
During the 2012 DUT SRC elections manifestos, the DA Student Organisation (DASO), suggested the need of a creche in the institution for students who are mothers and have no one to take care of their babies.
They believe that this would be effective in decreasing the level of abortions and dropouts. Leith felt that a creche would help improve student attendance.
Sister Mbewu said that she thinks that the new three year contraceptive implant will be “very effective” because it lasts longer over the 3 year period students spend in University.