In May, the creative writing club at my university held a meeting. Sex education was listed as a topic for discussion.
The posters announced the topic, time, and venue for the meeting; these were placed at different locations of the Kongo campus, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
It is common knowledge that anything related to sex is discouraged and the taboo surrounding it has made discussions on birth control difficult in the North, so it was not surprising when the posters were taken down.
The meeting was held, much to my surprise, though we were worried that security personnel, whose office was right next to the venue, would come in and put an end to the meeting.
Despite Nigeria being a middle-income country, it has experienced a decline in reproductive health outcomes. Also, Statistics show that access to information on contraceptives and birth control is lesser in Northern Nigeria when compared to other regions. Access to formal education is also low among women in the North and this affects how they receive information on contraception.
Another factor that hinders the usage of contraceptives in the North is poverty. Most northern women are poorer than their southern counterparts and this makes access to facilities difficult. It would be much easier for a woman who has money, to walk into a pharmacy and request for drugs to prevent her from getting pregnant.
The right for a person to govern what happens to their body without external influence or coercion is violated when a woman cannot make the choice of how many children she wants to have, when she wants to have them and how far apart they should be.
Birth control is Islamic
Contrary to what is practiced and popular opinion, birth control and body autonomy is Islamic. One of the widely accepted arguments for the use of contraceptives in Islam is formulated as a result of the Qur’an’s recommendation to nurse children for two years.
Also, the practice of azl(withdrawal method) has been used since medieval times, although it was mostly used on female prisoners and slaves. There are numerous hadiths that speak about its use during the time of the prophet. According to an account by Jabir Abdallah.
We [the Companions of the Prophet] used to practice ‘azl during the time of the Prophet. The Prophet knew about it and did not
The strongest argument one which focuses more on the bodily autonomy and rights of Muslim women and Birth control’s implicit approval by God lies in the text of
one version of the hadith (credited to Abu Hurayra) which states “Do not use ‘azl with your wife without her permission.”
The only forms of birth control which are considered haram are extreme procedures like the removal of fallopian tubes and vasectomies.
This permissible stance in Islam is one which should be taught and accepted by northern men and women to reduce the issues of overpopulation and give Arewa women the right to their bodies