|Phophi Ramathuba has been criticised for the remarks. (Photo by= Limpopo Provincial Government)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] A regional health minister has come under fire in South Africa for telling schoolgirls to "open your books and close your legs". Phophi Ramathuba made the comment during a visit to a secondary school in a bid to encourage abstinence and reduce teenage pregnancy rates. Social media users criticised the remark and questioned why it was only directed at girls. Ms Ramathuba defended the message, which she said was aimed at boys too, BBC reported.
The health minister for Limpopo province was visiting Gwenane secondary school in the township of Sekgakgapeng on Wednesday to mark the first day of the new academic year. "To the girl child I say: Open your books, and close your legs. Don't open your legs, open your books. Thank you very much," she told students. She added that girls were being lured by older men using luxuries like expensive wigs and smart phones. The comments sparked criticism after a video of the speech was shared on social media.
Government statistics show that almost 33,400 girls under the age of 17 gave birth in South Africa in 2020. Save the Children says a lack of access to comprehensive sex education as well as affordable and appropriate health services are key factors contributing to teen pregnancies in South Africa.