Posted by News Express | 19 September 2022 | 293 times
By FUNMILAYO ADEYEMI
A 62-year-old mother of five children, Mrs Tina Daniel, has called for a social support system for teenage girls impregnated while in school and could not complete their schooling.
Daniel shared her personal experience as a pregnant, school-going teenager with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Karu, Nasarawa State on Monday.
She said the social support system was needed to help the child to go through pregnancy and return to school thereafter.
Daniel, who got pregnant at age 14 while in Junior Secondary School Class 3, dropped out of school, but is now mother of four daughters and a son, doing well in their various endeavours.
She said that as a pregnant child, she went through lots of stigmatisation in her neighbourhood, where she was nicknamed “Virgin Mary’’; in church; among her peers and everywhere she went.
She added that the trauma was so deep that she almost decided not to return to school.
She stressed that the stigmatisation and resultant trauma were major factors responsible for the growing number of out-of-school girl-child in the country.
“I was in JSS 3 when I got pregnant for a fellow parishioner who declined responsibility when my parents invited him over to Social Welfare Department. That was the end of our relationship.
“I was in the choir, while he was an usher.
“All the counselling I was getting in the church and outside the church was to abort the pregnancy so as not to have a bleak future as I was told that the alternative was to stop schooling completely.
“I made up my mind not to abort the pregnancy,’’ she said.
Daniel thanked her mother for accepting her and the situation and for supporting her in spite of her father’s insistence that she must leave his house.
She said she summoned courage to get a petty job and raised money to take care of her pregnancy and the child whom she later gave to her mother to nurse while she returned to school.
“I completed my Junior Secondary School and I was doing a part-time job with a school; earning little money to take care of my baby.
“I did not allow the earlier stigmatisation to limit me. I returned to school and here I am at 62 years having graduates who are working.
“The daughter I carried all through the stigmatisation now heads a construction company in Abuja.
“If I had yielded to the pressure to abort the pregnancy, I won’t be seeing the girl today. I may not even be alive and also wouldn’t have been able to help my siblings,’’ Daniel stressed.
She said her experience as a teenage expectant mother made her to resolve to set up an NGO to take care of the school needs of the girl-child.
Many stakeholders have declared that adolescent pregnancy remained a challenge and was responsible for the huge number of out-of-school children, especially in the northern parts of Nigeria.
Mrs Asabe Malami, Director, Social Development, Gombe State’s Ministry of Women Affairs told NAN that mothers, especially, have a crucial role to play in ensuring that the girl-child completes her schooling.
Malami, also the Chairperson, Association against Gender-Based Violence in Gombe State, charged mothers to stop using their girl-child to hawk wares during or after school hours.
She noted that women indulged in the harmful practice, whereas the girl child ought to be in school or receiving extra lessons like the male child.
“Children are not supposed to be hawking during school hours when their peers are in the classroom,” she said.
Malami noted also that the influx of rape survivors, insurgents and survivors of molestation from different crises had led to an upsurge in teenage pregnancies in the northern parts of the country.
“Parents, especially mothers must seek empowerment and ensure that their children go to school.
“Education opens doors for children,” she stressed. (Text, excluding headline: NAN)
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