File photo of a pregnant teen
Mrs Eneh Edeh, a Veteran Activist and Gender Advisor, has called on parents, religious leaders and civil society groups to encourage open discussion with adolescents on use of contraceptive to address the spate unplanned pregnancies and abortions in the country.
Edeh made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Saturday.
The expert said that the time to keep silent about sexuality education was past as more and more adolescents were getting exposed to sexual content through the internet.
She said that this exposure to the internet has facilitated their involvement in sexual activities and experiments from an early age, putting them at risk of having unplanned pregnancies and abortions.
According to Edeh, in a complex society like Nigeria, there is so much denial and refusal to face reality about how fast the world and technology is changing the way people think which inarguably is affecting the lives of adolescents negatively.
“Parents, guardians, religious leaders and Civil Society Organisations need to face reality that adolescents are exposed to the internet now more than ever before.
“We must all start addressing this problem by first facing the reality that adolescents are becoming sexually active at an early age and begin to relate and talk to them in a realistic and practical manner.
“If we face the reality of what is happening around us then we will know the right thing to do. This issue is a very delicate one because even talking about sexuality education and getting people to understand and accept basic things they get embarrassed and say this should not be discussed in the open.
“But the reality still remains that this age bracket is sexually active and because of their exposure to ICT, which has no restrictions, you find adolescents knowing things fast and mostly things they should not be exposed to at their age.
“The church, civil right groups, corporate Nigerians and Federal Government should work towards organising and encouraging a sexuality education that will not be harmful to the society.
“You need to teach and enlighten adolescents on a level of sexuality that is practical and realistic. “They should be able to relate to this including the dangers involved and allow them to have knowledge and make choices about the use of contraceptive.”
The gender advisor said that it was paramount that adolescents receive this education very early as the danger of abortion and the danger of ignorance had far more dangerous consequences than the use of contraceptives.
Edeh said: “This does not mean I encourage it but adolescents need to be educated and informed so that they are better able to make informed decisions and choices.”
She noted that there was still a lot of ‘hypocrisy’ among civil right groups concerning the issue which stalled the process of finding better and realistic solution to the problem.
She said that it also fuelled an increase in the spate of unplanned pregnancies and abortions in the country.
“Other countries across the globe and even in Africa discuss this issue openly. Open discussions are held everywhere and the youth ask questions about their sexuality and they are not victimised for that.
“This is what should be happening here in Nigeria; we need to have open dialogue on the issue and religious leaders, parents, civil society groups, religious bodies need to see the reality and get involved.”
Edeh also called on the federal government to expand its health facilities to provide basic education on sexuality and involve individuals and stakeholders who were not extremists, vindictive, partial or religious bigots to be there and provide support.
NAN recalls that at the 2018 commemoration of “World Contraception Day”, Mr Effiom Effiom, the Country Director, Marie Stopes International Organisation Nigeria, an NGO, said that an estimated 20 to 40 per cent of maternal deaths result from abortion complications with a procedure-related death rate of 680 per 100,000 abortions in Nigeria.
Effiom said that abortion remained a public health problem in Nigeria that needs to be addressed.
He said that studies by Guttmacher Institute showed that over 1.2 million unsafe abortions were done in Nigeria every year as against previous studies in 1996 which indicated a figure of just 610,000.
The institute is a research organisation that works to study, educate and advance sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States with focus also on developing countries.
Effiom said that these unsafe abortions were carried out on women aged 15 to 49 years, adding that over 80 per cent of induced abortions were done by doctors in private settings.
The country director said that six per cent of unintended pregnancies are resolved by abortion and most females who have had an abortion were younger than 25 years.
He however said that with the support of partners, the organisation was in 2017 able to avert over 1.1 million unintended pregnancies through the use of contraceptive. (NAN)