John Sparks recently wrote an article for Sky News details the failing of sex education in South Africa and the factors that result in a domino effect.
One-third of girls in high schools across the country are getting pregnant because the poor attention to sex education. This mostly derives from the teachers who, albeit provided with a sexual education curriculum, don't touch it. Some refuse because of religious beliefs while others say it promotes promiscuity among girls. This inevitably leaves a young woman without any knowledge of contraception.
Statisticians reported that roughly six out of ten cases, or 61.7% of births registered last year, the names and details of the children's fathers had not been provided. It was expressed in an unemotive, matter-of-fact manner but the data suggests that South Africa is the land of missing dads.
The domino effect has left a clear indication that the once-dominant idea of the 'family unit' has completely broken down. In many cases, fathers do not want to take responsibility for the child – and liability for paying child support that comes with it. And, if young women have multiple partners they may not know who the father is, says Ms. Glennie who is part of the woman and girls' advocacy group, Tears Foundation. "Of course, people don't want to own up when pregnancies occur, but there is nothing in the way of prevention here," she adds.
Only 36% of children in South Africa live in the same household as their biological father and Professor Mzikazi Nduna from the University of the Witwatersrand says the 'missing father phenomenon' is a complex issue but it reflects the reality that woman do the child-raising in this country. She adds that there may be cultural reasons for the low numbers of father registrations.
"There is a tradition in South Africa which Zulu's call 'inhlawulo' whereby men can pay for the damage they cause by impregnating unmarried women. It is supposed to be negotiated by the families but if negotiations fail the father goes unacknowledged."
For Ms. Glennie, the 'missing dads' are just one element in a deeply paternalistic society that is populated by poor role models.