Single Parents in South Africa
Single Parents in South Africa the rise in the number of single parents is not limited to the Western world. In South Africa in 1998, over a fifth of all households were run by single parents.
As is true everywhere, single parenthood results from separation or divorce, death, and pregnancy outside of wedlock. In addition to widespread problems with AIDS, South Africa continues to experience increasingly high rate of teenage pregnancy.
This means that single mothers are enduring the most of serious poverty early and life without the benefit of support systems. “The more traditional South African communities still believe that mothers should be responsible for rearing the children and giving care within the home.” (“Single Parents in South Africa – How to Manage the Hard Life”) And they have the added burden of caring for family and children affected by HIV/AIDS.
A 2000 report on the “State of South Africa’s Population” showed that the need for contraception for adult women and teenagers in rural areas far outstrips the availability of contraceptive education and supplies. Calling for programs that will give rural teenagers and women greater control over their reproductive lives, the report blamed the shortage in contraception for most of the teenage pregnancies (many a result of rape).
Sadly, many South African children grow up without fathers. In some cases, fathers have had to leave the family home to find work across the country’s borders. (“Single Parents in South Africa – How to Manage the Hard Life”) In others, the fathers have fallen victim to AIDS, leaving widows and orphans in their wake. And some women have single parenthood forced on them by war.
Increased numbers of divorced in South Africa have also created more single-parent families. Reports indicate that the number of divorced increased from twenty-seven thousand in 1986 to around thirty-three thousand in 1987 and 1989. And two-thirds of them involved children. (“Single Parents in South Africa – How to Manage the Hard Life”)
In 1985, more than twenty-five thousand South African children lived in a home run by a single parent. By September 1990, 73% of South Africa’s children’s parents were divorced, and over 150 thousand had been involved in divorce over a four-year period. “We can only assume the numbers are greater in 2008.” (“Single Parents in South Africa – How to Manage the Hard Life”)
South African children are affected by divorce. Not only is the marriage dissolved, but the child is separated from one or both parents. Absent fathers are a fundamental problem for South African children and their mothers. The reduced ability to earn a meager income is magnified by the lack of a male role model in the home, which has profound consequences for future South African generations. (“Single Parents in South Africa – How to Manage the Hard Life”)
As divorces increase, so do the chances for South African children to be exploited. Extreme poverty forces single parents to abandon their children, increasing to the number of orphans and children living in the streets. Another reason single parents abandon their children is the fact that foster parents receive more financial support than do single parents. A single parent in extreme poverty may hope that the child will get better care from foster parents.
“Unfortunately, it is the very children most in need of care and parenting that are the most at risk for exploitation.” (“Single Parents in South Africa – How to Manage the Hard Life”) Child pornography is a major industry in South Africa, and sexual trafficking of children is increasing. Children are prostituted to provide basic food stuffs for their starving families. Labor exploitation is common, with children under the age of fifteen being forced to work long hours for little to no pay. (“Single Parents in South Africa – How to Manage the Hard Life”)
South African women face a grim life. Frequent victims of rape, teenage pregnancies are common. Single mothers, no matter what the reason for their situation, face social stigma and extreme poverty. Sexual exploitation of women is a serious and growing problem.
“Both governmental and non-governmental help is urgently needed, yet the need frequently overtakes available help.” (“Single Parents in South Africa – How to Manage the Hard Life”) Better opportunities for single parents to find work, education, and vocational training would bring about great improvements in the log of South Africa’s single parents.
The non-governmental organization SOS Children run one hopeful program. They offer vocational training courses (including beadwork and dressmaking) to single parents in Mamelodi, Mandela Village. “The women who learn how to sew and decorate their work make clothing and knit jumpers they can sell.” (“Life | Parental advice”) There are some single fathers in the courses, and the project helps some single parents by giving them grants to start businesses of their own.
Best Wishes, Coyalita
Behavioral Health Rehabilitative Specialist
See Tomorrow: “All About SPARK (Single Parents Raising Kids)”
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