Reproductive Rights and Health: A series of interviews with women living in low-income communities (I)

Nigeria is in the midst of a population explosion, and this is in spite of the fact that maternal and neo-natal mortality figures are pretty high. Since 1992, several Nigerian governments have embarked on massive Family Planning campaigns and billions of naira has been poured into making available family planning tools in a bid to control population growth.

Nothing appears to be working.

In order to get a grasp of people’s knowledge of their reproductive rights and reproductive health seeking behaviour, we conducted a series of interviews with the most affected populace, women living in low income communities. Below are excerpts from the interview, also attached, for our Yoruba speaking audience, are some voice notes from the interview.

Kudirat

My name is Kudirat*, my education came to an end in JSS2, I learnt hairdressing but I’m no longer a hairdresser, because I don’t have money to set up a business. I have three children. After I had my first born I fainted and afterwards started having dizzy spells. My first born was delivered in Lagos by a nurse. I had the other two at home, here in Ibadan. When I was pregnant with my second child the nurse asked me to go for a blood test, when the results came back I was told that I don’t have enough blood. Then I was also asked to do a scan they also said that the child was not healthy, but I delivered the child in spite of it all. I attended antenatal clinic in Lagos when I was pregnant with my second child but delivered her at home in Ibadan. I don’t attend any clinic after delivering my children.

Audio 1

My first child did not take any vaccination, but the second one had a few shots, it seems that the third one had a few vaccinations too. The reason I don’t take vaccination for my children is because at the health centre, when we go to take vaccinations, they ask us to bring #200 naira and a bar-soap, afterwards you’ll have to pay #100 per visit. I don’t know whether the people that give the vaccinations are doctors, nurses or healthcare providers trained to give vaccinations, I just know that they are all from the government and they work at the clinic.

My husband and I did not discuss anything pertaining to the number of children we are going to have, there was no discussion of such between us. After I had our third child, my husband asked me to go to the family planning clinic and start taking contraceptives, that I should do the one for three years. I refused because I don’t know how I can cope with something I’ve never done before. He was very angry and started shouting about money, that where do I expect him to find #400 naira each time I have to go to the clinic. I don’t know why that is such a big deal, because as a lot of people know, that family planning has side-effects and anything can happen. Things go wrong all the time, and anybody who claims that there are no side effects and things don’t go wrong is lying, things go wrong! Even though some people claim that things don’t go wrong, they are lying, things go wrong!

Audio 2

Although I’ve never met anyone that has had a personal experience with the way things can go wrong, but I know because women are always talking about these side-effects, although some people say it’s a lie, things go wrong.

While some women claim that taking contraceptives did not work, and they got pregnant in spite of it, some women claims it makes them lose a lot of weight, while others says it makes their stomachs bigger.

When it seemed that I was pregnant I went to *Mummy T to collect some medicine, after doing a pregnancy test for me she confirmed that I was pregnant, so I asked her what to do, she told me about one medicine like that that she uses anytime she doesn’t want to have a baby, but she said it cost #1,200, me I had only #350 on me, so she said I should try another medicine, but when I got to the chemist they told me it costs #500 naira. So I told them my dilemma and they gave me some other medicine to use.

To be continued…

  • The interviews were recorded in Yoruba, transcribed and translated into English.
  • The names of correspondents have been changed to protect the identities of the correspondents.
  • For our Yoruba speaking audience an excerpt from the audio of the interview is embedded in the article.

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