So today, I woke up by about 11.30 pm, as I usually do. (I rarely sleep well.) And in the name of something to do I went on twitter. On its own volition, my Echofon account popped up trending topics and I found ‘Postinor’ to be the first one. It certainly was a hot topic because it seemed to be garnering about 60 tweets per second. Initially I thought it was amusing that Postinor would be a topic at all and I was certain that I would find comical commentary there but I wish I could say that was all I found… I am trying to gather my thoughts.
As I read on I realised that the issue was that NAFDAC had just banned Postinor in the country. (For those who do not know, Postinor is a morning-after pill that is easily available in Nigeria.) People seemed quite enraged about this as the tweets indicated but what shocked me most was that the tweets were from very young people who were either just getting into University or in University. And again, mostly from guys. The majority of the tweets were condemning the government for banning the drug saying they were just going to increase the population in NIgeria, others joked that they had boxes of the drug at home so there was really nothing for them to fear. These shocked me, but the one that shocked me the most were tweets like these:
Its cheaper RT”@teamworldpiss: Gynaecosid is still effective after 48hrs, I dnt get why y’all re wynin ova postinor
Postinor,Menstrogen,E.p forte,Rogotinor,Malagold,gynaecosid,Long fat dick with full force,hanger,yoyobitters,emsosalt,andrew liversalt,salt and water,Bara,agbo pepper soup,Asheiba,chealsea n lime,potash n lime,D&C
Ur a PRO “@callmeWYNTER: If postinor 2 is banned what will nw happen to cytotec”
A substitute for POSTINOR = METHOTREXATE . For all them desperate chics…
Don’t ban postinor completely cos there r stil sensible girls who noe hw n wen to use it.
I always wanted to do this post but I never knew this would be the reason why. The reason for my shock at those tweets should be obvious: I did not see anything much on safe sex, or condoms or even abstinence ( although that would be asking for too much). These are very young people the future of the country and they think nothing of having unprotected sex except to prevent pregnancies! It made me wonder about the truth about our sexual health as a nation. I am more certain than ever that there are more people walking around with HIV than those who have been for treatment. I am certain that we have people dying of STDs and even passing it on, and I am more certain that they are more women than men.
The post I wanted to write was on how easily women in Nigeria could have the higher rate of infection with the disease. I remember when I went for treatment in LUTH and I had a conversation with some women I was met there. One discovered she was HIV+ when she was 5 months pregnant. AT that time she had given birth and her baby was about 4 months but she had not told her husband yet. She said she only had told him that they said she should come for another test, because her initial results were inconclusive. She said she would tell him that day once she got home. I never saw her again. The other lady had rushed into the matron’s office where I had been sitting like she was running away from something. We got into a conversation and she told me how she had seen her husband’s relative walk in. She was hiding from him because he would definitely tell the other members of the family that she had the disease and was most likely the one responsible for her husband’s illness and subsequent death. In truth the reverse was the case. Her husband had been ill a very long time and he had not told her what the problem was. She said one day he became strong enough to have sex and they did, she conceived,and he died shortly after. When she came to the hospital she had a dangerously low CD4 count that made the doctors scared, but she was still looking and feeling healthy. She began drugs and regular clinic that day. It did not matter that her husband had been ill for years and she had nursed him and supported him financially. It did not matter that the same relative was also in the hospital treating the disease. She was/ is a woman. I also remember having a discussion with a doctor who revealed to me that in most of the cases of HIV with a married woman, her husband usually tests positive, so it is either the rate of infection with men is slower or that the women got it elsewhere; the former option being more plausible.
So when I read these tweets and I felt my heart break because I was hoping that with all the information and education available to young people online they would make better choices. Young ladies would make better choices. That the guys were the ones tweeting their dismay about the lack of postinor is an indication that their girls are taking it; and more importantly, having unprotected sex with them. AT that age I was doing that because I did not know any better, because I was filling an empty hole and now I am wondering how many more girls are filling holes but digging their graves and ending their future?
I went out with a friend on Friday for drinks and dinner and we bonded over conversation. Conversations about how we were both sexually abused as children, physically battered by our brothers and our dysfunctional homes. The only difference between her and I is that I came out infected with HIV. Over time I have had cause to have this same conversation with many other girlfriends, you will be surprised how many women in Nigeria were sexually abused as children. I daresay it is as many as 2 in 4! But nobody speaks about it, nobody educates girls to be victors not victims. We live in a patriarchal society where the men have their way, where women are taught that only if they please (their) men are they are successful. Then somewhere along the line the teaching warps into something morphed by abuse and the lady needs to be accepted by any man to validate herself, and she is ready to do anything. Date him, clean for him, have unprotected sex with him and take the abortifacient pills he gives her. Then he goes on to have sex with another girl.
I worry about the truths we are not telling ourselves in this country; abortions are banned but there are several doctors whose specialty that is, and judging from the tweets they must have high patronage. HIV medication is controlled but only for poor people. Rich people can have it delivered to their doorsteps. Why are there no sexual health educators and clinics in Universities and polytechnics? Why is there no sex education in the secondary school curriculum? But even as I say this I also know to ask myself, why is there no electricity, why no motorable roads, why no petrol?
I am worried for my daughter . And all our daughters
‘ My people die for lack of knowledge’
Please help to educate when/ whomever you can.