Due to religious and cultural sensitivities, Nigerians live in denial of just how common teenage sex is, which has led to high rate of pregnancy among girls between ages 15 and 18 years.
The families of these teenagers are stigmatized by friends and family members with insinuations that they are unable to raise their female children with proper moral and religious standards.
This stigmatization most often leads to unsafe abortion as the teens cannot absorb the heat from the society.
Majority of the abortions in Nigeria are being committed in secrecy by the less-qualified persons in very poor environments, due to the desperation of the clients and the need to make easy money by quack doctors.
This situation has no doubt contributed to the increasing prevalence of unsafe abortion which is known as the greatest killer of teenage girls.
A recent report revealed that the abortion rate among adolescents in Nigeria has risen from 1.8 to 2.7 million, and this leads to the question why?
Speaking from experience, our respondent who preferred to be anonymous said, “I went to spend my holiday with my uncle in Port-Harcourt. My cousin usually helps me with my studies when his parents go to work.
“One day he wanted us to make love and I told him that I have not done it before and that I have not started menstruating.”
The young girl was deceived into believing that since she has not started menstruating, she cannot possibly get pregnant.
“He informed me that I will not get pregnant since I had not started menstruating,” she narrated.
From the above narrative, it is obvious that a lot of girls do not know how to avoid being pregnant as proper sex education is still rare; so many girls are ignorant of the implications of their sexual action and even ashamed to seek contraception services.
According to a medical expert, Dr. Daniel Umoren at adolescence stage young people have a high libido so they jump straight into unprotected sexual relationships without giving it a thought if it may lead to unwanted pregnancies or not.
“The Non-desire to use ‘protection’ while having a swirl time has placed the country in a state of dilemma, as most women say it’s not as pleasurable as skin to skin.
“Condoms have a success rate of only 88%, that means 12% of the time, it can still fail.”
He further lamented that poverty, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, harassment, rape etc. were major factors responsible for teenage pregnancies in Nigeria, and it’s even celebrated by the ‘boys’ as a form of masculinity.
On why teenage pregnancy is rampant Mrs. Princess John, said teens are getting pregnant due to unprotected sex.
“Teenagers are getting pregnant because of unprotected sex and exposure to the internet, which is caused by youthful exorbitance. There is usually a stage where the urge for sex increases but if these young ones don’t have any sexual education from their loved ones they tend to go astray.
“Like for me, the reasons why I did not indulge in sex before marriage was not because I did not have the urge but because each time I had such feeling the words my mother would come whispering to me.
“But these days you get to see a lot of young girls without guidance on this aspect, so most times I make it my duty to talk to the young girls that cross my path.”
She further called on schools to relate more on this topic with the kids rather than making it look ‘sacred’.
Tackling the health issues is important, but ultimately Nigeria must accept that despite religious and cultural teachings, sex remains the most pleasurable human experience ever, which goes to say that the result of sex will always be with us in high proportions.
So, teenagers must be assisted to navigate this period successfully and provided with all the resources they need.