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Three Mzansi teenagers are raising the lid on the reality of teen pregnancy in a courageous documentary designed to help educate young people about what it’s really like to be sixteen and pregnant in modern day South Africa.

With the most recent government data showing that 15,500 South African school-age students fell pregnant in the 2015 school year, the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and Marie Stopes International are setting out to provide a platform to highlight the need for improved access to information and services for young people to empower their sexual and reproductive decision-making.

Having learned the hard way what it’s like to be “Sixteen and Pregnant”, sixteen-year old high school students Thato, Fanele and Nhlanhla are to share their personal stories in the candid documentary. The one-hour special, filmed in and around Rockville, Kliptown and Pretoria earlier this year, follows a critical period in the life of each teen as she navigates the bumpy terrain of adolescence, rebellion, love, sex and coming of age – all while dealing with pregnancy and motherhood when barely more than a child herself.

Commented Georgia Arnold, Executive Director, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, “Sixteen and Pregnant highlights the many societal, economic and health challenges faced by pregnant teenage girls – from a lack of basic sex education to peer pressure, health problems, parental disapproval, unwanted responsibility, a lack of money, stigma/community gossip, the difficulty of continuing an education, facing life as a single parent, and fears about how to raise the baby.

By highlighting the sacrifices they are obliged to make, and the hurdles they have to overcome, we hope to encourage them to take control of their lives and bodies by helping them to make more informed choices about sex, sexual health and contraception.”

“We hear a lot about young women and pregnancy in South Africa but not enough about the complexities of young people’s experiences and the role we all have to play in creating a truly enabling environment for teens growing up today,” says Whitney Chinogwenya, Brand & Communications Lead, Marie Stopes South Africa. “We are glad MTV Base and the MTV Staying Alive Foundation are tackling this issue from young women’s real point of view.

This series is important not only because it sheds light on pregnancy and parenting for young people, but because it does so in a way that allows for reflection, not judgment and support instead of stigma. I hope parents and other role models watch this with their kids and consider whether we are all doing enough to ensure young people have the tools they need, be that information, services or both, to make a full breadth of choices about their lives.”

MTV Shuga Presents 16 and Pregnant is produced by the MTV Staying Alive Foundationand directed by award-winning South African documentary director and film-maker, Annelet Steenkamp. The programme is designed to complement drama series MTV Shuga: Down South, whose storylines involve teen pregnancy, contraception, unwanted pregnancy and mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The series is supported by Marie Stopes International.

MTV Shuga Presents Sixteen and Pregnant, premieres on MTV Base (SA) on Wednesday 31 May @21:30 CAT, and on MTV Base (ROA) Wednesday 31 May at 22:00 WAT. The show will also air on MTV (DStv channel 130) on Friday 28 July at 13:35 CAT.

Picture: Supplied

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