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Teen moms and access to paternity tests

- By Wits University

Studies conducted by the Department of Psychology at Wits University suggest that there is an unmet demand for free paternity testing facilities in the country.

The studies carried out in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng showed that teenage mothers and their children suffer the shame of denied paternity when men refuse to acknowledge their role in the pregnancy.

The plight of young mothers and their children could be alleviated by the provision of free DNA testing facilities to facilitate quicker recourse. While DNA paternity testing is available in South Africa, it still remains inaccessible to most young women due to costs.

Dr Mzikazi Nduna from the Wits Psychology Department whose area of interest is vulnerable youths will discuss the findings of the studies. She will be joined on the panel by Mbuyiselo Botha from the Commission for Gender Equality and Phyllis Ndlovu a Clinical Psychologist from the show Utatakho. The discussion takes place on Thursday, 1 October 2015 at 13:00 – 15:00 at the Emthonjeni Auditorium, Wits Braamfontein Campus East.

Nduna argues that lack of free DNA testing facilities can be interpreted in a number of ways:

  1. It could indicate the lack of political commitment to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights  (SRHR) service provision as this is one of the services pertinent under SRHR.
  2. Or it could imply the State’s collusion and reinforcement of traditional ways of resolving contested pregnancy; a method that is believed to be unreliable and an insult to women.

Speaking briefly about the forms of avoidance adopted by men Nduna says, the implicated men bought time by expressing disbelief about the news of the pregnancy or relocated or completely rejected responsibility.

Nduna concludes that the negative effects of denied paternity are felt by mothers and children throughout their lifetime.

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