Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

By Ene Oshaba

Stakeholders have expressed concerns on the pressing issue of Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) leading to unwanted pregnancies, which, combined with restrictive abortion laws, result in high maternal mortality rates due to unsafe termination of pregnancy in the country.

This formed the core of discussions at a Research Dissemination Meeting held at the weekend in Abuja by Ipas Nigeria titled “Building Legal Support to Address the Menace of Unsafe Abortions and Sexual Violence in Nigeria”, as experts and advocates call for stronger legal and healthcare responses to protect women and reduce maternal mortality rates.

The Commissioner for Health and Human Services in Adamawa state Felix Tangwanu , called for Laws on SGBV to be implemented nationwide in order to reduce, if not stop preventable deaths and protect women and girls.

Tangwanu urged relevant institutions to be more committed to the prosecution of sexual violence offender’s to deter others from engaging in such heinous crime , disclosing that the Adamawa state government currently made SGBV advocacy a front burner issue, stressing that citizens should be careful with Abortion situations because a lot have died from visiting quacks.

” I will advise that we always visit the hospital for any healthcare needs because abortion is one the major drivers of maternal mortality.

“In Adamawa state a lot of people have been prosecuted because of sexual violence and I know somebody that was prosecuted and exposed and because a lot of people know him he went into trauma and died,” he said.

On his part, Professor of Obstetrics and gynecology at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University and Teaching Hospital Prof. Bryan Adinma , called on the government to remove restrictions on safe termination of pregnancy noting the alarming record of maternal mortality in the current national demographic health survey.

“Government should stop playing the ostrich, unsafe abortion is a killer and the highest cause of maternal mortality in Nigeria .

“I’m sure by the time present national demographic health survey comes out we will have a maternal mortality ratio of more than 900 deaths to 100 , 000 live births so we must make some of these laws clement to our women and by extension the society Abortion laws in Nigeria are restrictive but they can be liberalised further to conform with what has happened around the world,” he said.

“Even though it is important to put up laws it is better to develop a value system whereby people have their minds geared towards doing the right things at all times. There is no point trying to abuse the girl child simply because you are a man or boy and have the prerogative of being more powerful, its a power thing but it is needless but when we inculcate values that are moral in the nature and values that will assist the syste and society then we begin to get it right,” he stressed.

Earlier, the Assistant Director at the Department of Population Management and Development at the National Population Commission Dr. Seun kehinde made reference to the demographic dividend programme of the commission which urges the government to be conscious of the age population , stressing that the youth age is a productive age and they should be supported to make impact in the country through good systems.

According to her, Sexual violence leads to unwanted pregnancy and the end result is unsafe abortion leading to death making the nation to loose the youth , she therefore urged for more enrollment of children in school to empower them with knowledge for informed choices.

“We are losing our youths instead of benefitting from their youthful skills. Education is key, young people should be enrolled in schools so they can be empowered with knowledge and also economically to enable them make informed decisions and choices. If youths are educated and atbtheir productive stages and understands the message of reproductive health rights it will help them understand contraceptive use and when to think about sexual relationship.

“If Government can hammer on laws that will prosecute Sexual and Gender Based Violence offender’s it will deter others in engaging in such and the economy will be better for all,” she stressed.

Meanwhile A medical student at the University of Abuja who serves as the National Director, Standing Committee on the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of the Nigerian Medical Students Association Ogochukwu Excel Nmesomachi, stressed the importance of the promotion and protection of women and girls especially from sexual violence through the implementation of laws Nigeria is signatory to.

She further called on the government to incorporate comprehensive sex education into schools curriculum to equip young citizens to protect themselves early as well as enable them know what steps to take when abused .

” When young people have access to information and law enforcement agencies implement laws that protect women and girls from sexual violence it will go a long way,” she said.

In his welcome remarks the Country Director Ipas Nigeria Mr.lucky Palmer reiterated Ipas commitment to the advocacy on safe termination of pregnancy, assuring that his organisation will do its best in ensuring that women and girls are safe from “unnecessary deaths “.

Ipas Nigeria Health Foundation works to empower women and girls to have bodily autonomy and exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights. As partners for reproductive justice, we build collective action that transforms societies to enable women, girls and vulnerable persons manage their fertility and realize their full potential.

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