As a teenager, how often did you hear the phrase “If you let a boy touch you, you’ll get pregnant”, or “You better not go around impregnating anybody.” As Nigerians, especially those of us born and raised here, I am certain that if we were all given a dollar each time we heard these phrases we would have been able to pay off all of Nigeria’s international gbese and still have some change left to dash Elon Musk.
Sex Education in Nigeria
Growing up, sex education was basically non-existent and if you were lucky you would just get one variant of the aforementioned phrases yelled at you. Even now, in some homes, you dare not mention the words “penis”, “vagina” or “breast”. You often find that most of these body parts are given weird names like peepee, Toto, Mr Johnson, John Thomas, etc.
Nigeria is a very religious country where the majority of citizens base most of their actions on religious sentiments. It is therefore not a shock that the vague nature of sex education stems from the attachment of sex and sex education to immorality and profanity. The belief that the knowledge about this undoubtedly important aspect of human life corrupts the soul and would grant an automatic ticket to becoming the devil’s child. And God forbid we let the devil in our home now, Amen? Amen!
You would think that since we hold morality in such high esteem as a nation, the rate of sex crimes, rape and harassment would be next to nothing, when infact it’s the reverse. What then, truly, is the yardstick for the ‘morality’ that justifies ignorance about our own bodies and how they work.
This begs the question, or should I say questions: Why are some body part names censored while the rest are regarded as everyday words? Why is it okay to freely say the words “eyes”, “ears”, “stomach”, “hands”, but not “penis”, “vulva”, “vagina”, “scrotum” and “breasts”? Why is sex considered great and acceptable only within the confines of a socially accepted construct of ‘morality?’. And why should I wait until I am considered ‘ready’ to learn about it? Why should my readiness, or lack of it, affect the form and quality of care for my body parts and organs? It’s as ridiculous as deciding not to clean a baby’s legs until he’s old enough to walk.
Sexuality and Humanity
The fact remains that every human is a sexual being, and we all experience sexual feelings. So why is it that the topic of sexuality and sex education is seen as a taboo in most homes and societies? The curious nature of humans causes us to constantly seek knowledge wherever we can find it. Sex education should start from home instead of pushing our children towards the wrong sources (e.g. pornography or media) that could provide distorted and exaggerated views of sex and it’s goals and purposes, as well as sexual organs and the care of them and how to navigate sexual choices.
Parents/guardians should make it a point of duty to first equip themselves with appropriate information and share this with young people without filtering the truth. It’s also important to create safe spaces to ensure openness and trust so young people can ask questions without the fear of being judged, ridiculed or shunned.
Contrary to popular opinion, sex education is not a one way street. It covers the care and understanding of sex organs, contraception and safe sex, self esteem and consent, and the ability to make choices about one’s own body. The majority of sexual predators prey on the innocence, ignorance and gullibility of their victims in order to manipulate them into doing their bidding.
Sex education does not make you unholy neither does it corrupt your soul. In fact, should you decide to be celibate for whatever reason, it does not stop you from being informed. Rather what sex education does is that it gives you the confidence and ability to make informed decisions about your self and body whenever the need arises. Knowledge they say is power and this power will prevent you from making the wrong choices.
Although, if we are honest with ourselves,the archaic and holy attitude towards sex education is a result of the deeply ingrained ideas in our subconscious that we have grown up to pass on to others. Still this doesn’t have to continue, and we owe it to ourselves and future generations to unlearn these non-beneficial ideologies and embrace a more comprehensive approach towards proper and comprehensive sex education.
Until we take sex off the pedestal we’ve put it on in our homes, schools, and even in our societies, then we cannot truly advance towards sexual liberation, sexual confidence, and a healthy and more informed world.
So when next you’re tempted to repeat the earlier stated phrases, or anything similar to these, be sure not to, but instead take time to properly educate whoever may be in need of it.
Note: We Provide More Information About Contraception in Nigeria.
About the author
Precious Dasaolu is a content writer, freelance editor, poet and spoken word artist.
With passion for women’s rights and female empowerment, most of her pieces (spoken and written) are centered on raising awareness on gender based violence and promoting self awareness, esteem and confidence.
Connect with her on social media via Twitter : @PreciousDasaolu and on Instagram : @Oluwapelumi_d.