Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Condom ban in Anambra

LAGOS, 7 April (IRIN) - It is now illegal to encourage the use of condoms in southeast Nigeria's Anambra State. The state government has also banned the advocacy and distribution of other forms of contraceptives including IUDs (intrauterine device) and any other "un-natural" birth control.

"Instead of teaching children how to use condoms to enjoy sex they should be taught total abstinence," the state commissioner for health, Amobi Ilika said when announcing the measures in late March at the state capital, Awka. "The use of condoms has greatly encouraged immorality," he said.

Many sociologists as well as family planning and AIDS support groups disagree. "I don't think it's the right step," public affairs analyst Alphonsus Ofodile said. "Even if you ban the use of condoms, people will still have sex. So why would a responsible government want to discourage safe sex?"

More than 3 million people - 3.9 percent of the adult population - are living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. The rate is rising by around 300,000 people a year, according to a 2006 estimate by the joint UN programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Condoms are openly available throughout Nigeria partly because the federal government, in partnership with family health organisations, has programmes to distribute and sell them. The programmes also produce public announcements on local radio and billboards advocating for the use of condoms.

Many religious groups around the country also back condom use, having recognised that messages urging abstinence have failed to yield the desired results.

The population of Anambra State are not known for habouring particularly fundamentalist beliefs but the ban may have been designed to appeal to local evangelical groups.

For Ofodile, the ban is just a way for the state government "to score a cheap political point". Anambra State has a history of political instability and violence and is now making "a desperate attempt to uphold morals", he said.


Besides making advocacy for contraception illegal, commissioner Ilika also railed against abortion. "Abortion is the greatest crime," he said. "[All fetuses] must be allowed to live no matter the circumstances that led to the pregnancy, even rape."

He added that medical practitioners in the state will face stiff penalties if they are caught carrying out abortions or any 'anti-life' activities. "The state government will withdraw the license of any medical personnel who flouts this directive and any hospital will be closed down."

The commissioner did not specify how the state would punish shops and pharmacies caught selling condoms, or individuals caught using them.


onydchic 9:37 am  

No condoms... , no abortions... wow, what a retarded way to solve absolutely nothing. I think it's pretty obvious that preaching abstinence is not helping anybody. Who's this Amobi person? Are they living in some alternate reality?

And its making abortions illegal that's encouraging these poor girls to go and do unsafe and fatal operations with quacks.

It breaks my heart how Nigerians can be their own worst enemies.

OyiboGirl 12:05 pm  

Well said onydchic. And thanks to Jeremy for posting this. I read this story on IRIN this morning when I came in to the office and have to say that it's ruined my day. This idiot politician seems to think nothing of playing with the lives of the people of Anambra in order to score a few measly political points with the evangelical crowd. The last paragraph says it all really: surely a huge increase in unwanted pregnancies, STDs etc is "punishment" enough. Does anyone have any bright ideas on what can be done to challenge this? Surely the National Action Committee on HIV/AIDS should have something to say??

Waffarian 12:23 pm  

He should get together with that senator woman, they would thrive together in their backward ways.... Jesus! who are these people? how the hell did that kind of person be a health commisioner? Does he know what the average doctor/nurse deals with everyday in that country? Now they have to deal with this shit too? and what about V.D? They gonna ban antibiotics too?


I do not believe that any state in Nigeria has the right to deny patients the right to basic health care. Yes, birth control pills is BASIC! As condoms are.

Abeg, I do not know what to say. I am still shocked that such ignorant people can be in such important positions in our society. That man better join the evangelist/pastor wagon and follow his true calling.


Hypocrisy! All this hypocrisy!

Sandrine 1:22 pm  

Hi Jeremy,
There is an article on BBC News related to your topic.Just want to warn you, it's hard to read.

Saymama 1:36 pm  

Uhm...I think I'm gonna be sick!!!! :@!

Sting 2:15 pm  

This is really retarded. It makes no sense how these government officials want to be going backwards instead of moving forward. I bet if his wife or daughter was raped and got pregnant we would want them to have the baby too. Dumb ass!

omidanbellafricaine 2:48 pm  

This same idiot man would go about sleeping with young ladies from different campuses. I hope he reaps what he sows maybe he'll catch some STD, something interesting like HIV or something embarrassing like Crabs would be fun to see him scratch on national television.
All these evangelicals are creating major problems in our society. The prey on people's finances, minds, social lives and now they are about to send thousands of girls to the butcher abortionists in naija. Girls who have been raped by fathers, uncles, lecturers, friends, robbers and by their own society.

RJ 6:01 pm  

Preaching abstinence didn't help the U.S and it sure as hell wont help Nigeria. Its amazing how everybody else in the world moves foward and tries to bring up new and innovative ways to help their people, but Nigeria...NOOOOO! We have to pass an indecent dressing thingy, ban legal abortions and all sorts of rubbish. PLEASE! I'm as Catholic as they come (grew up in the church, went for baptism classes and even attended a private catholic school) and as much as it goes against the church doctrine and all, I think if you are going to teach people about sex, yes tell them abstinence is the best way to prevent anything but also make them know if they decide to F**k(which they would) there are proper ways to use condoms or other birth control methods. And if for some reason and unwanted baby comes into the picture, a woman has options, SAFE OPTIONS. Abstinence my black ass, thats a country of over 160 million, people sure as hell are fucking innit....i'm pretty pissed now, i'm going back to bed.

Controversial Anon,  6:48 pm  

Uuhhhhhmmmmm! Why is everyone getting so exciting?

You fail to spot the problem here, the problem here is democracy! So if you like democracy and the will of the people, blah blah blah, then you shouldn't complain about this because the case here is simple.

Anambra state is a predominantly Catholic state (its the number one state in Nigeria in terms of Catholics), the Catholic lobby (representing the majority opinion as in any democratic process) and Catholics in the state have prevailed on the government to adopt policies favourable to their cause, it is against the Catholic faith to adopt artificial contraceptive measures. It's that simple.

The real issue here as i keep on saying is that of dogma, superstition and stupidity, but then again the entire episode has played out democratically, its no different to the Evangelical lobby in American leaning on George Bush to ban stem cell research, or to re-introduce intelligent design in schools.

If you detest this without detesting the stupidity called Religion then you have missed the point, If you condemn this without condemning wholesale western democracy then you miss the point.

For me, all I can say is that Anambrians are practicing proper democracy. Go Anambra!

Luv it. Just luv it!

we shall remain desperately unintelligent until we choose reason over faith!

Ms. Catwalq 7:08 pm  

When I begin to think that there is no lesser place someone in power can drag Nigerians to, something happens...why is it most people from across the niger with all these their ideas. First that Cross river woman and now Anambra administrators...

wait a minute...what am I talking about? Is this not the same state that they said they kidnapped their governor and put him in a ghana-must-go at one point?
Then, what do you expect...

nneoma 11:12 pm  

@Ms. Catwalq - i don't think stupidity is limited to any particular ethnic group or geographic region, as your comments suggest...in more ways than one...

but yeah, my first reaction was WTF??!!??!!, and still continues to be...

imnakoya,  1:07 am  

This reminds me of the South African government denial over HIV and AIDS.

This 'ban' is just an empty policy statement! It is stupid, unrealistic and not enforceable.

So has the government started implementing its programs on abstinence?

Anonymous,  1:43 am  

Oh, UN statistics. I know very well how those work.

Oyinbo man sits atop sky scraper in Amsterdam or Berlin or (insert European city here) and plucks figures out of his pink arse.

3.9% my arse. After 18 years working on Nigeria's disease-fighting campaigns (first malaria, then sickle cell, and eventually HIV/AIDS), all I can say is, do not ever believe any figure coming from that country on disease prevalence. As Osotimehin, who was head of the Nigerian Government's anti-HIV efforts, realized that there was possibility to chop money from the HIV-fund, na so the rate of HIV+ people just skyrocketed in the 1990s, strangely, as people became more and more aware of the disease and its modes of transmission.

Something is really not right with that country.

guerreiranigeriana 4:57 am  

wow!...naija and its inability to cease to amaze me...from laws about dress to now banning condoms, preaching only abstinence and making abortions illegal...what a bunch of fuck faces they have running around parading as leaders and experts...shei, they had better prepare themselves...once i finish this last degree, i am coming home to do serious battle with these 'quack' leaders in health, especially sexual and reproductive health...as other countries are fighting to have make condoms more accessible and legalize abortions, naija is going backwards...they must have undergone the same brainwashing/puppetmaster bush did...stupidity at its best...in fact, i'd like to know when this amobi person began having sex...

Anonymous,  8:16 am  

It is cases like this that remind me that Nija is sadly lacking sharp invetsigative journalism.

This Commissioner needs to be scrutinized, his sexual liaisons tracked down, the girls that have committed abortion for him captured on tape.

The best solution is to expose the hypocritical motherfucker.

Opium,  9:53 am  

Despite the many protests from all the commenters, you may be shocked to realise that your "progressive" views are actually minority views all over Nigeria. The issue is not just religion, which does have a major role, but that Nigeria is in fact a very conservative and hypocritical society. I'd challenge anyone to carry out a straw poll of 15 people on the streets of Lagos and I assure you that you will find broad support for this new law in Anambra. This does not however mean that all the supporters will privately adhere to the ban on "unnatural forms" of birth control.

Ignorance also has a large part to play. My aunt, a doctor once told me a story of a woman who was given birth control pills at the family planning clinic. She apparently already had 6 children and by all standards herself and her husband were poor. She misunderstood its use and told her husband at home that the pills were to help them have more children. The husband dragged the wife, along with the pills, back to the clinic to scold the doctor for wishing such evil upon him and banned his wife from taking the pills.

Anonymous,  10:07 am  

hold on... one man can't just ban condoms.
the key is in the last line, he did not give any details on how pharmacies would be punished... because they can't. there is no law that says they can, and no power to say they can stop anyone.
even in nigeria, no one can snap their fingers and ban something.
as for abortions... well they're already illegal aren't they?
this guy just got a journalist in his office and decided to mouth off without any substance.

For the love of me 10:22 am  

I'm just too shocked for words. Are these people crazy or what? Nigeria takes one step forward and ten backwards. I do agree with the anon that talked anout investigative journalism, If we dig a little deep into his past which I can bet ain't clean,and plaster it everywhere, the guy would retrace his words.
Who the hell made him judge?Says abortion is the worst crime, and corruption isn't? My people would say iwuod omo iffonno.

reader,  10:32 am  

LMAO @ Opium's story about "evil" birth control pills!

Sadly, Opium is right - ignorance rules in these places.

No condoms in 2008 huh? Boy, I wish his father would have.......

TaureanMinx 2:19 pm  

Definitely not the solution. AIDS will end up killing quite a number of Nigerians.

Blue 3:21 pm  

They pulled the story claiming that Anambra State did not ban the use of condoms. The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Amobi Ilika did make the statement which was ill advised on his part. This article is apparently old news as i got this retraction forwarded to me today.
Mr. Obienyem Personal Assistant to the Governor states


I wish to state for the avoidance of doubt that Anambra State did not at any time ban the use of condom. It is not even contemplating that.

The statement credited to the Hon. Commissioner for Education is therefore false. The Commissioner only said that in the ABC of prevention from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases that abstinence comes first, followed by marital faithfulness and others.

Further, he counseled those growing up to embrace our pristine value of chastity.

As a pro-life member and an ardent Catholic, just like some of us, he may be personally opposed to the use of condom on the understanding that it is wrong to stop any act of procreation already begun, but he has not said nor has he advocated that it becomes a state policy.

Beyond condom issue, the concern of the State Government is that health care is properly developed in the state. This explains the efforts of the State Government, which has already led to the accreditation of many health institutions in the State, the building of Cardiac and Heart centre, the provision of ambulances to our hospitals, and the massive provision of infrastructure in our hospitals. The sustenance of this revolution is the concern of the Government and not the moral question of whether condom should be used or not.”

onydchic 4:06 pm  

that retraction reeks of BS.

semper 4:51 pm  

I just want to point out that most evangelicals are not anti birth control - you can pin one that on our RC brothers.

And although we are usually "pro-life" most of us recognise that abortion can be the lesser of two evils.

Nine 11:25 pm  

Is that even legal?Even in Nigeria I doubt it's legal.Typical ignorant politician trying to score political points at the expense of people's lives.

Quite aside from the problems of disease,one would think that the government of a country whose population is projected to double in the next thirty years would be pushing contraception more aggressively...

@anonymous 1.43am
3.9%?The HIV prevalence rate is estimated to be between 5 and 6 percent in Nigeria.That's one in twenty.We're talking clinical estimates here,from practitioners in the field,not epidemiological studies.That was as of 2007.Draw your own conclusions.Why did the rates skyrocket?Because people have sex and more people are actually getting tested.You think Nigeria's rates are high?In Botswana,one out of three women of child bearing age are HIV positive.One in three.Don't take my word for it,look it up yourself.

The BBC obviously didn't look hard enough.Every university town in Naija has a more or less covert abortion clinic.Every one.Just shine your eye.Or go to Benin.

@controversial anon
You're trolling.

OyiboGirl 9:30 am  

Thanks to Blue for posting the statement. I'd heard something similar on the journalistic grapevine. It's a relief to know that there is no policy of the sort suggested by the Commissioner's comments. However - and it's a big however - that doesn't negate the fact that someone in a position of authority publicly stated some really dangerous views. The last thing Anambra - or the rest of Nigeria - needs is mixed messages about HIV/AIDS. I feel very strongly that this guy should be brought to book for his comments. Anyone fancy administering the slap o' justice?!

Anonymous,  9:59 am  

@nine, you obviously don't read very well. in the bbc story it said they couldn't find a woman who'd had an abortion who would talk openly to a reporter, not couldn't find a woman who'd had an abortion... there's a difference.

AnyaPosh 6:12 pm  

OMG! Not in this day and age. We are trying to develop and move forward & yet people are taking the country 4 decades back. This is unacceptable.

They should face reality and stop riding the horse of the moral high ground. People will continue to have sex & people will continue to demand abortions. This will only increase the rates of Nigerian women dying from illegal abortions or suffer the risk of removing the whole uterus if the procedure is not conducted professional.

I would love to ask the people creating this legislation if each & every single one of them did not engage in pre-marital sex. This is ridiculous. I can't even shout.

Nine 9:23 pm  

@anonymous 9.59am
Perhaps I didn't make myself clear.The impression I got from the BBC story was that it was difficult to find pregnancy termination services,even if illegal.It isn't.It's not even difficult to find relatively safe ones.They just don't advertise.And can be expensive.

I did not contest the difficulty of finding women who would talk openly about having one;I'm Nigerian,I know what Nigeria's like.

Z 9:58 pm  

I'm relieved to hear that this was not an official policy or determination put into place by the state government. I was baffled when I read the story, given all the research that I did on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria when I lived there. However, I was willing to believe the story had merit because nothing politicians say or do surprises me much anymore. I say this not only in terms of Nigerian politicians, but also with respect to politicians in so-called developed nations.

The invasion of Iraq against the wishes of millions of people worldwide, the implementation of the Global Gag Rule which bars organizations that advocate for safe abortion from receiving U.S. federal funding, the Canadian and U.S. governments' agreement to allow "militaries from either nation to send troops across each other's borders during an emergency" without any prior consultation from the Canadian public, and efforts in both Canada and the United States to restrict access to safe abortion services are all prime examples of people in positions of power placing their values above the needs and wants of others. Controversial anon also had a point, that these types of issues are often a reflection of a narrow minded majority that has influence in the sphere of politics. Any efforts to resist repressive policies must involve widespread information and education and the harmful impacts of such policies.

Lastly, supporting progressive policies, such as Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State launch of a "free medical service scheme for pregnant women and children of five years and below in the state", can also help ensure that elected representatives place a high value on peoples' health and well-being.

Sugabelly 3:46 am  

my country likes to give me things to campaign about..

Iyaeto 6:08 pm  

He's already getting prepared for the next population census.He wants his people to multiply and transmit diseases as they go along.Even the Catholics has embraced the use of condoms.What is wrong with the Governor.

delabique 9:45 pm  

@iyaeto, are u sure the catholics have fully embraced the use of condoms?

an insider,  7:34 pm  

lol isnt that what NACA is already doing? way back since like 05. it all stems from the USAID dollars they are getting you know George Bush and his theories.

its the ABC now, abstinence, be faithful to your partner adn condoms for at risk populations e.g gay men and truck drivers

um so yeah it may not be illegal but condom use in nigeria is not exactly being encouraged anyway.

the hiv/aids industry thrives!

Anonymous,  7:43 pm  

hmm all this talk about quack abortions and what not. im pretty sure you can find a good doctor to perform an abortion for you, becuase the law is not enforced anyway. so the people getting quack abortions are the same people who cant get good healthcare anyway or don't know anybody or anything. legalizing abortion won't solve the problem, actually providing good healthcare will. i mean if abortion was legalized today, how would you know that the person performing your abortion was qualified to do so? answer. the same way you would know if abortion were illegal.

if you didnt know then you would be in trouble.

Patrick Egwu,  3:10 pm  

The ban show how naive the Anambra State government is...... Banning condoms will not prevent people from having sex........

Anonymous,  6:35 am  

Lol @ all the comments. The ironic thing is that this man is right. With the increase in condoms comes the increase in STDs. The thing that was supposed to stop it doesn't work.

Someone said abstinence didn't work in the U.S. funny neither has condoms, because with the increase use of condoms, STDs have also increased.
Also Nigeria isn't the U.S. we cannot use the same catering service in Nigeria that is used in the U.S. we work with the people of Nigeria instead of copying the U.S.
As for the abortion issue. When birth control fail the women resolve to taking a life.

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