One of my mum’s cousins got pregnant at 16. She told her parents that she didn’t want an abortion, but didn’t want to marry the man responsible for her pregnancy. Her parents took her in and took care of her till she had her baby. She then went back to school for her WAEC. She continued to the University, graduated and went for her masters. She met another man, and she got married when her daughter was about 11. This daughter she had at 17 is now 23 or 24 (I’m not so sure, but thereabouts).
Shortly after I finished secondary school, a girl in my town died of abortion. The 17 year old girl who had just secured admission in the University got pregnant for her teenage boyfriend. She and the boyfriend paid a quack doctor to do the abortion, and she didn’t stop bleeding. By the time her parents noticed and rushed her to the hospital, it was already too late. She died.
The story of that girl became the topic of moral instruction and sex education for parents in my community, and my mum didn’t let this pass her by.
A night after the news spread around town; my mum came to my room at about 2am (something I hate), and she woke me up. She told me amongst other things…paraphrased
“Abstain if you can, condom is an alternative, not only to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but to prevent infections. But if by mistake you get pregnant, please tell me. I promise to do exactly what you want, but I will just need to make sure to get you the best care. If you want to keep the pregnancy, I will pay for the best healthcare for you, and take care of the baby till you are ready to have your baby back, just like my aunty did for her daughter. And although I wouldn’t recommend, if you want to terminate it, I will take you to the best professional, either home or abroad. I don’t want you risking your life with quacks, you know how ******** ended up. And it is up to you to decide whether or not you will marry the man responsible, I won’t force you.”
This was the most sincere my mum had been to me up to that stage of my life, and I’m thinking of having such talk with my daughters.
The most heartbreaking is that of a girl who was forced to marry a man who repeatedly raped her till she got pregnant. She was working as a maid for them. She was forced to become a second wife to her rapist.
These are some of the stories I heard while growing up. Stories of girls being forced to marry men they didn’t want to marry, just because they got pregnant for them. Some of these men got them pregnant by raping them.
What’s my point?
Parents and relatives should stop forcing their daughters to get married to men just because they got pregnant for these men. Reassure your children, and let them know they can confide in you.
Everyone makes mistakes, but we don’t have to compound the mistakes by forcing girls to marry men they do not want to get married to.
There is no law that states that a woman must marry a man who got her pregnant. This should only happen if the two people involved are willing to be married to each other.
Some people might ask “why should you go as far as have unprotected sex with someone you don’t want to get married to?”, well it happens, and the people involved should not be forced into marriage if and when it happens.
Unwanted/unplanned pregnancies shouldn’t ruin the lives of young girls. Besides my aunt’s, I have seen many other well managed cases of teenage pregnancies, and I’ve also seen the ones that ended up ruining the lives of these girls. The education and development of young girls and women do not have to die just because they got pregnant.
If I had gotten pregnant as a teenager, my education would have only been delayed for one year. I would have still gone ahead to achieve and live my dreams. That’s the assurance my mum gave us, and that’s the assurance daughters need from their parents. No, it’s not an encouragement to promiscuity, it’s pragmatism. Teenagers (and other young people) will always have sex, and some will get pregnant. In all cases, present them with the safest options. This might be the difference between life and death, a life of misery and that of happiness.
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