A 62-year-old mother of five, Mrs Tina Daniel, has called for a social support system for teenage girls who get impregnated while in school.
Mrs Daniel shared her experience as a pregnant school girl with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Karu, Nasarawa State, on Monday.
She said the social support system was needed to help the pregnant girl child to go through the pregnancy and return to school thereafter.
Mrs Daniel, who got pregnant at age 14 while in Junior Secondary School 3 (JSS 3), dropped out of school, but is now a mother of four daughters and a son who are doing well in various endeavours.
She explained that as a pregnant child she went through lots of stigmatisation in her neighbourhood where she was nicknamed “Virgin Mary’’ by her peers and others.
She said, “I was in JSS 3 when I got pregnant for a fellow parishioner who declined responsibility when my parents invited him over to the 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 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 girls in the country.
She thanked her mother for accepting her and the situation and for supporting her despite 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 who she later gave to her mother to nurse while she returned to school.
She explained that, “I completed my JSS 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 wouldn’t be seeing the girl today. I may not even be alive and also wouldn’t have been able to help my siblings.’’
She said her experience made her resolve to set up an NGO to take care of the school needs of the girl child.
Meanwhile, 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 North.
Mrs Asabe Malami, Director, Social Development, Gombe State Ministry of Women Affairs, told NAN that mothers had a crucial role to play in ensuring that the girl child completed her schooling.
Mrs Malami, also the Chairperson of the Association against Gender-Based Violence in Gombe State, charged mothers to stop using their girl child to hawk during or after school hours.
She noted that, “Children are not supposed to be hawking during school hours when their peers are in the classroom.’’
Malami revealed that 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 part of the country.
She, therefore, said, “Parents, especially mothers, must seek empowerment and ensure that their children go to school. Education opens doors for children.’’ (NAN)