24.2% of Lagos women have sexual Intercourse before the age of 18 – State Commissioner for Health

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris disclosed on Thursday that 24.2 percent of women in the state have their first sexual intercourse before attaining the age of 18 years.

Dr. Jide Idris disclosed this while delivering a lecture at the first Lecture Series of Inspiration FM which held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, Victoria Island, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.

The commissioner was speaking on “Reproductive Health: Beyond Cultural Limitations and Concerns,” when he revealed that the National Demographic and Health Survey and the Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey reported that 24.2 percent of women in Lagos had their first sexual intercourse before attaining the age of 18 years.

In his words:

Nationally, the figures are about 51 percent. This implies that in Lagos, one out of every four women would have been exposed to sex before 18 and the national average for Nigeria is one of two women. The difference in these figures might be attributed to several factors, such as female education, urbanization, childhood marriages and so more.

“With an average age at first birth at 20 years, about 22.5 percent of pregnancies are by teenagers in Nigeria. More worrying, however, is that reports show that as at this year, about 40 percent of women in the Southwest have experienced physical violence since age 15 and sexual violence cannot be excluded from these statistics,” he stated.

“In other words, in a nation where more than 60 percent of its population are young people and significant numbers of these young people are exposed to sexual intercourse at an early age either voluntarily or violently, a lot of potential problems emerge. Such problems are associated with sexually transmitted infections, childhood pregnancy, trauma and its accompanying physical and mental health implications.

“This means that there must be access to knowledge about sexual health and systems that modify behaviours, as well as, access to services that prevent and manage them.’

Speaking on issues affecting reproductive health, the commissioner mentioned age, rural/urban dwellers, education, socio-economic status, work, cultural and social norms as part of the issues affecting reproductive health in Nigeria.

He also listed female genital mutilation, early marriage; female disinheritance, gender and socio-economic issues, human rights, existing laws, policies, regulations, and strategies, among others.

On improving the reproductive health system, Idris advice that there must be education, increased investment in health, good governance, social and economic empowerment of women, strengthening health services, development of rights-based, code of ethics and domestication of international conventions.

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