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#EndWarOnNigerianWomen

#EndWarOnNigerianWomen
May 23, 2019 ezekschuba@gmail.com

End the War on Nigerian Women

On Tuesday, May 21st, Police officers raided a Marie Stopes Clinic in Lagos, harassed
the health workers and patients and took away confidential client information. Marie
Stopes offers free and affordable family planning services to women and men, pregnancy
tests, pre and post-natal care, treatment and services for sexually transmitted infections
(STI), HIV testing and ultrasound and laboratory services. They have trained staff who
offer counselling and treatment especially to those who cannot afford the costs at private
hospitals. To raid a centre that provides such services is sending a message to women
and girls as well as men and boys that they are not safe in health centres and that they
don’t deserve access to quality health services without fear or judgement.
This is happening in a country that contributes 10% to the global burden of maternal
deaths ranking fourth after Sierra Leone, Chad and the Central African Republic. Safe
spaces where women can access confidential and non-judgemental sexual and
reproductive health services are vital and we don’t have enough of them to reduce the
risk of maternal deaths. Just before the raid in Lagos yesterday, the Minister of Health
was testifying before the Nigerian Senate about the overburdened health system, the
deplorable state of General Hospitals in the country and the need to revitalize the tertiary
and primary health care system in Nigeria. Women and girls are dying from preventable
deaths because of lack of access to quality sexual and reproductive health services.
Recently released NDHS 2018 data state: “Unmet need for family planning declined from
20% in 2008 to 16% in 2013 before increasing to 19% in 2018.” Family planning is the
conscious choice of people to limit or space the number of children they have through
the use of contraception. And 19% of married women in Nigeria have an unmet need for
family planning services, according to the survey. Marie Stopes shouldn’t be punished for
offering a spectrum of services, including family planning, to those who need and want it,
especially women, married and unmarried.


The work being done by organisations like Marie Stopes is necessary to dispel myths,
provide counselling on the right modern method of birth control and help women and men
space their children. The National Strategic Health Development Plan 2018 – 2022
recognizes the importance of this work, which is why one of its pillars is to “Promote
universal access to comprehensive quality sexual and reproductive health services
throughout the life cycle and reduce maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent morbidity
and mortality in Nigeria.” Marie Stopes’ work is supporting the government in making sure
Nigeria can achieve the targets to reduce morbidity and mortality, which means improving
the health and wellbeing of women and girls in Nigeria. We should be celebrating their
efforts, not intimidating them.
Ten percent (10%) of maternal deaths in Nigeria is due to unsafe abortion. Access to safe
abortion is restricted in Nigeria, and can only take place in circumstances where a
woman’s life is at risk. Even though safe abortion services are restricted, access to postabortion
care (a service for women and girls who have medical complication as a result
of unsafe abortion) is not restricted. Nigerian laws and policies uphold women and girls’
rights to post-abortion services, a much-needed service that Marie Stopes provides.
Services providers who are implementing these policies and guidelines should not be
subjected to harassment and intimidation for performing their jobs. These healthcare
workers are providing care and saving lives; actions that should be praised and promoted.
These efforts to demonize and block access to legal services are being funded in Nigeria
by a Spanish organisation called CitizenGO. CitizenGo is a partner to an SPLC
designated hate group World Congress of Families and the city of Madrid has banned
their activities calling their campaigns hate based. CitizenGo and its extremist partners
have been organising trainings in Nigeria and Kenya within the past 18 months, trying to
block women’s access to critical healthcare. They should not be allowed to instigate the
harassment of women making informed choices about their health, and health workers
who are provided life-affirming services. They are an intolerant group and they are
bringing their hate mongering to Nigeria.
This group has set-up camp in Nigeria and are propagating false and unfounded
sensational narratives in places like Enugu, Imo, and Nairobi under the guise of religious
and moral obligations. They must not be allowed to instigate hate and oppression in
Nigeria and the rest of Africa. Hate is not part of our culture, and we reject intolerance.
This is a coordinated attack on the rights of women, girls, and marginalized persons and
we must say NO to their oppressive tactics.

Signed

Education as a Vaccine
Nigerian Feminist Forum
Alliances for Africa
Women’s Crisis Centre
Project Alert
Vision Springs Initiative
The Initiative for Equal Rights
Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative
Equality Hub
Ake Arts and Book Festival
NoMore Campaign
Above Whispers
9jaFeminsta
Stand to End Rape
International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights
Autamaimasa Health Foundation
Drug Free and Preventative Healthcare Organization
Women’s Rights and Health Project

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