PROJECT TOPIC:CAUSES OF PRE-MARITAL PREGNANCY IN NIGERIAN SOCIETY (A STUDY OF OBEAGU COMMUNITY IN ISHIELU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE)
Pre-marital pregnancy is a serious problem due to its relationship with youths’ responsibility for individual sexuality, parenting and current trends in permissive sexual morality. All these have led people into questioning its increase in our society. It brings an avalanche of problems to the teenagers, parents and the society.
Having seen some of the causes and consequences of unmarried pregnancy on all concerned in this study, it was discovered that unmarried mothers were not happy due to the attendant problems attached to the issue. The society on the other hand frowns at them, and looks at such occurrence with contempt. Obeagu community in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State – Nigeria is the case study for this research.
In the course of the research, books, journals, and magazines were reviewed in an attempt to unravel the nature, extent, causes and consequences of this problem. Research questions were also analysed to ascertain the facts of some causes and consequences of the problem. The figures gotten were plotted in tables and the percentages worked out after each table a comprehensive analysis followed. Recommendations were also made as means of curbing the social ill-pre-marital pregnancy.
1.0 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Pre-marital pregnancy has attained terrifying dimension that it has become a social problem facing the Nigerian society. It is so undesirable that people should not only disapprove it verbally, but something should be done to combat it.
Pre-marital pregnancy as a cankerworm has eaten deep into the fabric of most youths.
Its problems, most prevalent of which is the resultant population increase that is growing geometrically out of the proportion, have undoubtedly continued to place unbearable burden on the individual, the family, the community and the entire society. For instance, it begets the much taunted illegitimate child who is often denied quality education and other social opportunities of legitimate inheritance consequently, it places upon him/her the status of a social nuisance.
As such these have remained serious cogs in wheel of national development and economic progress till today.
Delamount (1980), said that pregnancy out of wedlock are abnormal and undesirable. The desire to have a baby by an unmarried mother is selfish and needs explanation to why she should. Hoftman (1997), observed that unmarried mothers have fewer friends, belong to fewer organisations and participate in fewer recreational activities than the married women.
He maintained that the girls in question are looked down because they have made themselves social misfits. There is then obvious need for a proper understanding of what pregnancy and pre-marital pregnancy denote.
The term pregnancy naturally connotes good tidings and fortune in all universe; however, that is only when it is applied in a rightful way. Thus, when a married woman becomes pregnant, both the woman and her relations and indeed the entire society rejoices greatly.
It is a most deserving, praising and rewarding event, a symbol of future happiness, better days, and practically the actual consummation of a legitimate marriage. Furthermore, it is ethically sanctioned by Christians as the Holy Book, the Bible, enunciates in Genesis “God created man in his own image, male and female He created them. And God blessed them, and he said to them, “Go ye into the world be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it. (Refer to Genesis 1: 27, 28).
However, when the word “pre-marital comes before pregnancy” it assumably becomes a misfortune, an unreconcilable insult, an undesirable evil; usually not welcomed by the family, the community and even the entire society. This is because of its perceived and manifest social and other related problems. In light of this, pre-marital pregnancy is an illegal pregnancy happening before marriage (in this study, unmarried pregnancy is used to refer to pregnancy among girls between twelve and eighteen (12 – 18) years of age (children).
At this point, it is worthy to note that the continued high rate of pre-martial pregnancy in Nigeria is traceable to post Nigerian civil-war due to low socio-economic status of people as noted by Onakeko M.O. et al (1996); in African Journal of Medical Sciences. Pre-marital pregnancy has been extensively written on in medical journals, as it has become part of
everyday occurrence. Specifically, many families, schools (especially secondary), villages, and cities have often witnessed cases of pre-marital pregnancy. It is regrettable therefore, that these embarrassing occurrences happen at a period in our national life when the campaign for population control and against Human Immuno-deficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is rife and other related sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea, syphilis among others.
PROJECT TOPIC:CAUSES OF PRE-MARITAL PREGNANCY IN NIGERIAN SOCIETY (A STUDY OF OBEAGU COMMUNITY IN ISHIELU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE)
Nowadays however, with increasing awareness and influence of foreign culture, a new trend of social morality seems to have taken place, as young girls increasingly tend to regard sexual dealings as their own private affairs and not any other persons’ business. Youngsters see sexual intercourse as their right, which nobody has any locus standing to interfere with, despite the fact that most of them are hardly aware of the negative implications of early involvement in the act.
Thus as these sexual excesses continue amidst the initial momentary pleasure and sexual fulfilment, these young girls often find themselves entrapped by the reality of all that are at stake; pregnancy and abandonment.
From a closer perspective, one could summarily say that the youths of today are constantly bombarded with sexuality through advertisement, music, x-rated movies and television to mention a few.
Many of the girls offer sex as a gift in their bargaining for the attention of young men. The picture even gets darker when you consider the results of a 1993 study of school-age-mothers in California; a state in United States of America. It turned out that two-third of the girls had become pregnant, not by teenage boyfriends but by men over thirty (30) years of age! In fact, some studies indicate that many unmarried mothers are victims of statutory rape or even child abuse.
Such widespread exploitation reveals how sick and depraved modern society such as Nigeria has become.
The aforementioned situation has led the researcher to attempt a study on the problems of pre-marital pregnancy with the aim of finding out those factors that promote it, as well as proffer solutions to abate it or through which it could be considerably reduced. This is by educating readers on the “whys” and “hows” of the issue. This will assure a sustained future for the parents, society and our young girls. To achieve this, Obeagu, community in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi in Nigeria was selected as a case study.
This community was purposefully chosen to expose the ills that have gradually made the youths of modern Nigeria particularly the girls endangered species where rural communities once known for moral sanctity and excellence have lost their ethical values to the sex scourge.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The major problems to be addressed in this research project are the causes and consequences of pre-marital pregnancy as embedded in socio-economic and religious spheres. Pre-marital pregnancy also known as unmarried motherhood is a universal phenomenon, which exists in all societies of the world, which develops and legalises social institutions that gave rise to the family.
Based on the above statement, it is pertinent that we state some of the causes of pre-marital pregnancy. According to Davis (1983), most of the causes associated with teenage pregnancies are now thought to be related to the low mentality of youngsters and bad home condition. He also observed that the mothers did not practice use of contraceptive or they did practice it inefficiently.
According to Simon (2003), African illegitimate rate is by far the greatest due to none acceptance of contraceptive and the general disapproval of abortion. Other important contributing factors according to him, include the late marrying age, uneven sex habits, poverty, and the excessive prominence given to sex in the contemporary European culture.
In view of this Ogenyi (2004), explained that, as it relates to lack of proper socialisation and poverty, that children who are not taken good care of by their parents indulge themselves in pre-marital sex. This is because if you have a grown up daughter and you cannot provide her with some of her necessary needs she will be out of control and try anything possible to “meet” up with other girls in town because girls these days spend a lot of money on clothes and cosmetics.
Going further, Adenyi (1968), maintains that a young girl who sets out to have a high time smoking or taking drugs may find herself pregnant without having had the chance to consider that possibility before hand.
In view of the above, pre-marital pregnancy as a problem has been so widespread in Obeagu community that people are alarmingly questioning the trend and departure from what it used to be. It has not only crippled the teenagers but also affected many families and rendered children fatherless. Meanwhile, parents in Obeagu town, like most other communities in Nigeria discourage the illegitimate child, the product of pre-marital pregnancy.
The child out of wedlock is often denied inheritance rights, social amenities and welfare including adequate education. Legally, the child is not well protected by the traditions and customary practices, as he/she is largely disregarded in matters of property inheritance. All in all, the child faces more or less social ostracism in that he/she is scorned and looked down as a “bastard” and consequently a social misfit and outcast.
This situation indeed poses a serious problem to the Obeagu community and the entire society in multifarious ways. A society with “fatherless” children is very likely to face various hardships as regarding catering for the welfare of such children. For instance where a child has no visible father to check his or her juvenile excesses, he or she is likely in the end to be delinquent, and that indeed poses a great threat to the society in which he or she lives.
Pre-marital pregnancy is a problem for the females in Obeagu community. Every female is expected to be married before getting pregnant. Where the contrary becomes the case, the female involved is looked down with scorn and disapproval. She is seen as having committed a social misfit. She therefore, undergoes the traumatic and threatening pregnancy condition without a husband to support and cater for her.
These unmarried pregnant girls usually range from twelve to eighteen (12 – 18) years of age. At this tender age, they are usually considered to be immature in their sense of reasoning, physical development and socio-economic capacity to maintain themselves and their expected children. At this range of age, they are only fit to be in school.
The causes of pre-marital or unwanted pregnancy, although had been explored at different times by several social researchers but is yet to be loudly stated and investigated within the cultural milieu of Obeagu. Above all, ways of curbing or remedying the problem have not been totally and exhaustively articulated.
It is against this backdrop that the escalation for pre-marital pregnancy and its disturbing consequences the most fatal of which is death, has become distressing. Never in the history of societies has there been the astonishing occurrence of pre-marital pregnancy. Every passing day, new entries are made in this catalogue of unmarried teenagers getting pregnant.
This study will therefore concern itself with the reason for or causes of pre-marital pregnancy based on the findings from the researcher’s chosen area. In the same vein, the study will in modest way attempt to proffer solutions and remedies to the problem, with a view to curtailing its future occurrence.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions will be proposed as a guide in the study of pre-martial pregnancy.
1. Is poverty one of the causes of pre-marital pregnancy?
2. Do parents lack of proper family orientation on their children serve as a contributory factor to pre-marital pregnancy?
3. Can lack of sex education to teenagers lead to pre-marital pregnancy?
4. To what extent can the avoidance of contraceptives by teenagers lead to pre-marital pregnancy?
5. What is the position of unemployment to pre-marital pregnancy?
6. Does premature dating lead to pre-marital pregnancy?
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This research is generally designed to examine the factors responsible for the increasing rate of pre-marital pregnancy among the teenage girls and the problem they face in trying to adjust to this new status. The specific objectives of this study w ill include the following:
1. To discover the root causes of the problems of pre-marital pregnancy.
2. To ascertain the implications of impact of this social malady on the society.
3. To find out how the unmarried mothers support themselves and their children financially.
4. To find out the educational attainment of unmarried mothers before and after pregnancy so as to help them in solving some of their problems.
5. To find out the general attitude of the society towards pre-marital pregnancies and its contribution to the problems of unmarried mothers.
6. To find out the general attitude of parents towards these unmarried mothers.
7. To provide information that will help social scientists control and solve the problems experienced by unmarried mothers.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study is numerous. The findings will in no small way help to reduce the causes of pre-marital pregnancies in our societies. It will assist not only the people of Obeagu community of Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, but also the entire society to conduct further studies on the causes and solutions to the problems of pre-marital pregnancy a the world advances towards a global village.
Knowledge obtained from this study will prove invaluable to its readers; it will not only inform, but it will also educate them. The various statistical data and analysis contained in the study will no doubt serve as invaluable aid and reliable working tool to further researchers on the topic.
Furthermore, the knowledge and information gained from this study will also help the unmarried mothers with a better understanding of their situation and hence adequately equip them psychologically to achieve their life aspirations and goals despite their unfavourable conditions.
Finally, the content and findings of this study will provide reference material to both policy makers and those in position of influence generally. It will guide them in making decisions and policy pronouncements that will particularly be of interest to government planning authorities, population agencies, such as National Population Commission (NPC), Education Curriculum Planners, as well as non-governmental organisations interested in safe motherhood like the Women Aid Collective (WACO) e.t.c.
1.6 STUDY HYPOTHESES
The following hypotheses will be proposed as a guide in the study of unmarried teenage pregnancy or rather pre-marital pregnancy.
1. Sex education in schools, will help to reduce cases of pre-marital pregnancy.
2. Most girls involved in pre-marital pregnancies come from broken homes.
3. The occurrence of pre-marital pregnancy in Obeagu community is high due to none use of contraceptives and lack of knowledge of other artificial birth controls.
4. Less parental supervision leads to pre-marital pregnancy.
5. The occurrence of pre-marital pregnancy in Obeagu community is as a result of poverty level in the community.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
In this section, time will be taken to clearly define some terms which are used in the course of this study. The following are some of the terms and concepts severally used in the course of this study. Although they may have other meanings or semantic variations, the researcher has carefully defined them with the context of their usage in this study.
Pre-marital Pregnancy: An illegal pregnancy happening before marriage (in this study, unmarried pregnancy is used to refer to pregnancy among girls between twelve and eighteen (12-18) years of age) (children).
Illegitimate: Children born out of wedlock (i.e who are not married to each other at the time of birth)
Taboo: Pre-marital pregnancy is seen as a taboo in Obeagu community, in the sense that, it is not appreciated in our time, it is forbidden by the tradition, custom and religion of the land.
Stigmatised: This refers to when an unmarried mother is scorned, neglected, ostracised, rejected and consequently lives dejected.
Social Malaise: The general feeling of being in difficult situations – being ill, unhappy or not satisfied. This affects a particular group of people as a result of a perceived deviant behaviour in the society.
Outcast: Outcast is seen as a person (pre-marital mother, in this case) who has been ostracised or excommunicated from the other members of the family or community, or if allowed to stay back, the person in banned from partaking in communal activities.
1.8 THE STUDY AREA
The study area is Obeagu community in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Nigeria. It is still a semi-rural community especially when we consider the style of living that one finds among the people, the local communication system (the town crier like Odu Chiogu of Ikpele village) still in common use. Furthermore, everyone knows his neighbour by name and family.
Rural gossips through which information spreads like wide fire are still prevalent. It is therefore possible to know who is who and who has one problem or the other.
Obeagu community is situated along Nkalagu and Eha-Amufu at Egedegede junction, just after Amazu bridge. It is true that Egedegede is Obeagu land, the heart of the town is about four kilometres inland from the road.
Obeagu shares land boundary with Eha-Amufu, Amankalu, Ugbahu, and Umuaro, all communities in Enugu state; Amazu and Nkalaha both in Ebonyi state. It is made up of six (6) villages, namely; Ikpele, Amumgba, Ameta, Obodoaba, Jioke and Egudele.
Based on the economic institution, most families in Obeagu community are predominantly farmers who practice and live by subsistence agriculture.
Agricultural cultivation has deforested some of the land areas in Obeagu commuity. While some part of the areas still remain covered by virgin forest such as (Efu-Eme of Ameta-Obeagu, Efu-Odume of Ogbaebu in Ikpele village, Efu-Orokoro of Jioke/Agudele villages, Ebeodo of Ikpele and some part of Ameta and Obodoaba). However, the emergence of western culture has affected the pattern of agricultural production. Some people now get employed in industries and companies e.t.c.
Thus, the impact of western cultures brought in and popularised by western education has gradually improved the life style of the people.
Finally, in terms of political institutions, Obeagu operates uncentralised political system especially that of gerontocracy.
Coming to legal institution in Obeagu community, such as conflict resolution it operates the system of peer parliamentary strategy, elders council strategy, village council strategy, and trial by ordeal. Thus, Obeagu people have implicit faith in the omniscience of the supernatural. In time of doubt or confusion, the supernatural rather than human beings to force confession from the guilty or to judge the innocence or guilt of a suspect.
Trial by ordeal is not an alternative to other conflict resolution strategies. It is rather a supplement, which whenever it is employed finally erases all doubts, absolves all blames settling the dispute conclusively.