The Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP) says Nigeria is losing her youths to unsafe sex due to the lack of good sexual education.
The Chairman of the association, Dr Ejike Orji, Chairman, said this at a news conference in Abuja organised by Education as a Vaccine, a non-governmental organisation, to mark the International Girl-Child Day on Thursday.
He said that year in, year out, thousands of girls died due to unsafe sex and unsafe abortions because of the lack of knowledge needed to guide them.
“Talking about sex is seen as a taboo by religious and traditional leaders, while parents seldom talk about it to their children.
“Whether we like it or not, our youths are engaging in sexual activities; therefore, we cannot continue to live in denial but we should rise and protect them,’’ he said.
Orji noted that the Family Life HIV and AIDs Education (FLHE) was an all-encompassing sex education programme and a good way of educating the youth about topical sex issues to ensure their safety.
“By 2050, Nigeria’s population will be 450 million and it is the young citizens who are not yet married that will drive that population.
“We are in a demographic crisis and yet, we are not giving our youths the right information they need to curb the crisis,’’ he said.
Orji said that 70 per cent of maternal deaths occurred in females with ages ranging between 18 and 35 years, while most of them go through infertility problems later in life due to unsafe abortions.
He stressed that it was high time Nigeria gave her youth sound sexual education via the implementation of the FLHE policy so as to safeguard them against sexual crises and ensure their safety.
According to Orji, there is also a need to create an environment that is conducive to the girl-child’s skills development to boost her productivity.
Also speaking ,Ms Esther James, Advocacy Manager, Association of Women Living with HIV and AIDs in Nigeria (ASHWHAN), said that most parents failed to give their children purposeful sex education.
She said that the parents erroneously believed that if they did that, their children and wards would become wayward and exposed to sex at tender ages.
She said that certain fallacies like a girl becoming pregnant via a mere touch of a boy had become obsolete, as the youth had gone ahead of their parents to learn about sex through gadgets like smartphones.
James said that such myths had largely contributed to the high rate of abortion in Nigeria, even though it was illegal.
She said that there was an information gap for the youth about sex because people hoarded vital information about sex from them, adding that stakeholders ought to embrace FLHE in efforts to educate the youth.
In her remark, Ms Ayiola Oluyemi, Assistant Director, Family Health, Federal Ministry of Health, said that the data available to the ministry showed that 50 per cent of girls with ages between 10 and 19 years had already experienced sexual encounters.
She added that the same situation applied to 25 per cent of boys in the same age bracket
Oluyemi said that the statistics also showed that 1.2 million cases of abortion were recorded in Nigeria, involving females under the age of 25 years, while 25 per cent of the figure comprised females between the ages of 15 and 19 years.
“Young people are having sex and we are denying this fact; so the government has to formulate policies that would address such pertinent issues.
“I urge the stakeholders to synergise and take up this challenge to change the narratives of sexual abuse in our nation,’’ she said.
Also speaking, Ms. Olabukunola Williams, the Executive Director, Education as a Vaccine, said that youths, particularly girls, had faced a lot of challenges in their sex life due to ignorance.
She said that Nigeria had yet to make any tangible investment in sex education for the youth, urging the government to implement the FLHE policy in schools across the country to equip the young citizens against sexual crises.
Williams said that her organisation decided to organise the programme on the International Day of the Girl-Child to educate young girls on how to guard against the evolution of sexual crises.