© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
‘I’d to learn the hard way’: How lack of sex education results in teenage pregnancy
FINDINGS from a survey by The ICIR in a secondary school in the Federal Capital Territory on sex education show that five out of the 20 senior students surveyed, said they first learned about sex from their parents, six from teachers, and nine from friends. The students were between 16 and 21 years old.
The findings confirm that young people are still not getting the right education about sex from their parents or teachers as sex education often comes with uneasiness. Parents and teachers often hesitate from teaching young people about sex. But this oversight often comes with consequences.
The ICIR interviewed some teenage mothers, many of whom said that they would not have gotten pregnant if they have had the right education about sex.
Here are excerpts of the interviews with teenage mothers
Ifeyinwa Marcel (16 years old)
Ifeyinwa is only 14 years old, a Junior Secondary School student in JSS3, the fifth child and the third daughter from a wealthy home, Ify (as she is fondly called) attended one of the top secondary schools in Enugu Metropolis. Her eloquence in English language is one of the things that would tell a stranger that she has good educational background.
She said she was not taught sex education at home and in class except the basic advice of taking care of personal hygiene.
“No, I don’t think I was taught in school, and if I was taught I can’t remember. But I was told to always be a neat girl. I learnt about sex education in antenatal classes when I was already pregnant. I was told the dangers of having premarital sex at the wrong time.
“At the antenatal classes, that was where I was told that sex with my husband would ease child birth pain and delivery of the baby, but I didn’t have a husband, because the father of my child [boyfriend] had abandoned me.
“My mother didn’t teach me these things, not that am blaming her, but I feel she is at fault here. I know I would do better for my child. I still remember when I started menstruating, the one thing she told me was anything you are doing just know yourself.
“It was when I got pregnant and had delivered did she tell me that I could get pregnant even while menstruating. She was aware I had a boyfriend then, but we never had any talk on sex education, I don’t think she did with any of sisters either. It was just the consistent –know what you are doing talk – that I got.
“I have two elder sisters and we never had “the talk”. We kind of just grew up. When I got pregnant, they were both angry and disappointed. One thing they kept saying was why didn’t you ask us? can’t you ask questions—why didn’t you ask us what to do or pills to take to avert the pregnancy?
“But this was when I was already pregnant. I was angry, they knew all of this and no one told me. I didn’t know how to calculate my menstrual cycle. Ovulation was a mystery, I didn’t understand how it worked. What I went through was too much, to carry another human being for nine months is not nine days.
“What a pregnant under age girl go through during pregnancy is is enough to teach a life’s lesson. Most of the time you can’t just help yourself. Pregnancy makes you more dependent as a young mother, and the morning sickness, Oh! God! ”
Amirat Yakubu (19 years old)
Amirat was left in the dark without proper information on sex education. She comes from a poor family.
Amirat was taught sex education in SS3. According to her, she did not quite grasped what was said, neither could she remember, except the fact that she was told that the touch of a man could get her pregnant.
“Na for SS3 our teacher tell us that if a man touches you, that means you will get pregnant. Some of the grownups were laughing in class but some of us did not understand.
“But before that time e get one boy for our class wey I like. Na him come tell me say wetin our teacher talk, say na lie, say no be so.
“My mama no teach me, as I done dey see my period na so she say make I go buy pad. Na the only thing wey she tell me. she also tell me say now say I fit get belle. “I ask her how, she tell me say no be wetin she go fit talk with me, say I go understand later.”
Her greatest regret she said was getting pregnant at an early age which has put an end to her academic pursuit. She said her father promised to put her through school. However, the possibility of that is quite slim considering the family’s financial position and her eight months old toddler. She is now learning tailoring.
Kadjidat Mohammed (18 years old)
kadjidat never had the guidance of both parents while growing up. With her father’s untimely death in an accident, and her mother remarrying, she was left to fend for herself and her three siblings at the age of 14, with little help from her aged grandparents.
Kadjidat was involved in her first relationship at 16 years of age and was raped and left pregnant at 17 years.
“After the death of my dad, my mum packed her things and left. She said she had to get married to another man because as a Muslim, she cannot stay alone like that. As the first daughter, I tried to advise her. My uncles’ second wife called us and talked to us and asked my mum what did she want again? She said nothing to us.
“Mohammed was my first guy. One of my best friend Zuliat I didn’t know they were dating each other. When I found out I called him. I said Mohammed, enough is enough. You cannot be dating me, and you are still dating my friend. He denied it. I told him I cannot continue.
“But after we broke up, he called me and said I should come and met him. I went and he said I should tell him my mind. I told him my mind. He said he cannot leave me, that all am saying am is in vain. When I was about to go out, he locked the door and forced me.”
“I called Mohammed. I told him I missed my period. He said I should go and abort the pregnancy.
“I could not meet my mum because I was afraid. I went to meet my mums’ best-friend. I explained everything to her, she called my mum and explain to my mum, but I did not narrate to her what happened. I just told her I was pregnant.
“she explained to her they called me, and asked who is responsible. I said Mohammed. They called Mohammed. H denied and said he did not know anything about me.
“Anytime I call him, he will insult me, and even sent me a text message that, that thing I called child that I am crying for that I should better take it to the real owner that he knows’ nothing about it.”
Meanwhile, Bose Duru, Chief State Council, Legal Unit, Social Development in Abuja told The ICIR that sexual harassment could be avoid to certain level if the girl child is educated at the right time about things that have to do with her sexuality.
“The truth is that some times religious bodies shy away from discussing sexuality education or abuse for that matter based on moral grounds. However, awareness should be created for advocacy against child sexual abuse and sex education in the interest of the society,” Duru said.
“Sex education is part of their lives, as we educate them on the whole activities of their lives, we cannot leave any aspect of knowledge or hide it away from a child just because we think that it is unnecessary.
“We can’t for some certain reasons overlook aspects that are important in the girl child life, we shouldn’t shield her from reality,” she said.
On the issue of girl child education and sexual molestation, Ruqayya Bayero, Principal Fouad Lababidi Islamic Academy, Muslim Community Center (MCC), Abuja, told The ICIR that shielding the girl-child from the knowledge of things that could affect her would only make her vulnerable to a life of hardship.
“Molestation is a social vice that unfortunately have entered our circle. The girl-child in Nigeria is not secured, and we have failed her by playing on religion. Every societal issue, notwithstanding the topic, I think should be discussed.”Bayero said.