Zimbabwe’s teenage pregnancy rate has risen by two percent to 24 percent, with the majority being schoolgirls that are forced to drop out of school.
The worrying trend has also led to debate over access to sexual and reproductive health rights (ASHRH) services, with some lobbying that learners as young as 12 years be given a choice to use contraceptives as a measure to address teenage pregnancies.
Teenagers have under-developed pelvises which increases the risk of obstructed labour, maternal deaths, paralysis and obstetric fistula.
Early sexual engagement also increases the risk of girls suffering cervical cancer, which is the leading cancer in Zimbabwe and one of the major killer diseases among women.
Reports also show that girls drop out of school when they fall pregnant and eventually give up on their studies.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, early sexual debut and sexual abuse of the girls increases their risk to unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and psycho-social challenges in their lives.
Zimbabwe records 70 000 illegal or unsafe abortions per year and one in every five girls drops out of school due to unwanted pregnancies.