STIGMATIZATION AND ALIENATION OF UNMARRIED TEENAGE MOTHERS IN SUB-CULTURE

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ABSTRACT

This study attempts to examine Stigmatization And Alienation Of Unmarried Teenage Mothers In Sub-Culture (Agege Lga Of Lagos State). The study adopted a qualitative approach. While a total of 90 respondents were selected using simple random sampling, the research instrument was a structured questionnaire having both open and closed ended questions. Also, three hypotheses were tested in the course of the study. The finding reveals that Western culture fuels the pressure of unintended teenage pregnancy, Breakdown of family and approved societal values leads to teenage pregnancy in the society; and that there is a significant relationship between a teenager's social and economic background and her debut into sexual relationships. The study recommended that the family, mosques/churches, and schools as the first agents of socialization should provide opportunities for moral, mental, religious, and educational dissipation of energies by the youths. Their curriculum should be able to provide an avenue for over all development of the youths. And Parents should be able to address their children's emotional problems immediately they are noticed before it ruins their lives.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1  BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Unintended pregnancy among unmarried female mothers is a global phenomenon. It occurs in both developed and developing nations but with variations in degree and its consequences on the social actor's involved. Although widely recognized as a social problem, unintended pregnancy stigma has not been extensively studied by social and behavioral scientists. Because labeling stigmatization and alienation is by definition a relational construct, adequately understanding it requires analysis at both cultural and individual levels. Teenagers all over the world attract attention. Unmarried teenage parenthood is by no means a new phenomenon. In the developing world, unmarried teenage pregnancies are very common especially in the urban areas due to differences in culture.

In Agege Local Government of Lagos State, pre-marital sex is not encouraged culturally. The culture is in support of sanctity of sex but with the waves of civilization, that aspect of culture is gradually forgotten. Out-of-wedlock teenage pregnancy has major physical, social, and psychological consequences. In addition to the need to cope with motherhood, many unmarried teenage mothers face stigma, lack of schooling, and livelihood insecurity.

The labeling and stigmatization of unmarried teenage mothers have not been without its consequences as it have caused many unmarried teenage mothers series of personal and collective problems especially in the area of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy (Abdulraheem, & Fawole, 2009; Atuyambe, Mirembe, Johansson, Kirumira & Faxelid, 2005). Though unmarried teenage mother's pregnancy prevention efforts are varied nationwide, many deal in shame and stigma.

Unmarried teenage mothers compared to their male partners have been reported as the most affected with the stigma and shame associated with unwanted pregnancy in many developing nations especially in cultures where fertility within the marriage institution is highly valued; while the male gets away with the act, the females are biologically meant to carry the physical evidence of their act. (Ilika & Anthony, 2004}.

A research carried out by World health Organization (WHO, 2009) indicates that 16 million girls aged between 15 and 19 give birth every year. Within this figure, 95 per cent of them occur in developing countries. Across cultures, just seven countries namely: Bangladesh, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and the United States of America are responsible for half of all adolescent births (WHO. 2009).

The normative picture of unmarried teenage mothers in the sub-Saharan Africa is that of an unhealthy looking girl with an unhealthy child, poorly educated, suffering from poverty, unemployed, shattered future, lacks access to reproductive health services and stigmatized for having unintended pregnancy (WHO,2007). Although significant drop have occurred in some countries within the past 20 to 30 years, emerging findings still shows that unmarried teenage mother's account for 15 per cent of the global burden of disability for maternal conditions, and 13 per cent of all, maternal deaths (WHO, 2006:). Earlier studies have shown that unmarried teenage mothers are at disadvantage especially in terms of qualitative reproductive health services available to them when compared to adult mothers (Creatsas, 1991; Galal, 1999; Atuyambe, Mirembe. Tumwesigye, et al. 2008).

Unintended pregnancy among unmarried adolescents and its stigmatization are not peculiar to sub-Saharan region (Warenius, Faxelid, Chishimba, et al, 2006; Cuffee, Hallfors, & Waller, 2007). Largely, unintended pregnancies, safe delivery and care of their babies have not received the needed attention (WHO, 2007). However, how unmarried teenage mothers cope with the challenges of unintended pregnancy have not received research attention in the sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria inclusive (Atuyambe, et al, 2005). In reality, there are those whose health and well-being and those of their children has grown worse due to unintended pregnancy. Similarly, there would be some, though they might be few in number but who have survived the phenomenon of unintended pregnancy.

What are their experiences like during pregnancy and how did they resolve the challenges that emanated from their unintended pregnancies? What socio-cultural factors are responsible for their enablement to live out of the stigma? An exploration of the phenomenon of unintended pregnancy and their survival strategies will not only improve our understanding of `their world', but will also be relevant in policy formulation and working out effective programmes that may better improve the socio-economic status of unmarried teenage mothers in Agege area of Nigeria. These are some of the issues addressed in this study. Hence, this study explores the experiences of unmarried teenage mothers with unintended pregnancies and how they addressed their psychological and social consequences of their pregnancy and motherhood, strategies adopted in resolving the stigma in Agege Local Government Area of Lagos State.

1.2      STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

The social stigma associated with being an unmarried teenage mother is so much that it may lead some women to attempt or commit suicide. In our social setup, pregnancy outside marriage is considered a humiliation that will affect not only the mother but also her family. It is no longer news in our society that young girls are being given out in marriage at early ages by their parents or family members due to pregnancy, financial difficulties or other reasons like cultural inclinations. Onigu (1978) pointed out that this causes decline in the childhood as these girls become pregnant mothers in their teens. Unintended teenage pregnancy threatens the objectives of the millennium development goals (MDGs) as posited by Mathur (2003) which include; eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal basic education, promotion of gender equality and empowering the women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria other disease; United Nations (2007).

Bayinsenge (2010), is of the view that early marriage occasioned by unintended pregnancy cut-­off educational and employment opportunities and chances of personal growth. A large proportion of unmarried teenage mothers face emotional, physical, psychological, and social problems after pregnancy and childbirth, such as obstetric complications, lack of education, and stigmatization by parents, brother and sisters, relatives, etc. in their communities. Another critical issue is that the responsibility of a child born outside marriage rests solely on the mother. The lack of support from family, relatives, society, etc. makes her living quite hard and sometimes unbearable. Today we are faced with the erroneous notion that unmarried single mothers are considered as `available' or `someone easy to gain access to'. In this study the problems of stigmatization of unmarried teenage mothers in Agege Local Government Area will be looked into.

1.3   RESEARCH QUESTIONS

The following research questions would be answered in the course of this study.

1.  What are the influence of the unfavourable reactions faced by unmarried teenage mothers and their integration back into the larger society?

2.  Is there any significant relationship between teenage sexual behaviour and teenage pregnancy?

3.  Should teenage girls be allowed better access to contraceptives and option for an abortion in cases of unplanned pregnancy? 

1.4     OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

In a bid to ensure that this study is relevant in the field of academic profession certain aims have been designed for this research work. The aims that this research was carried out have the following objectives in mind;

1.  To examine and determine the extent of problems facing unmarried teenage mothers in Agege in Local Government Area of Lagos State.

2.  To examine the impact of stigmatization faced by unmarried teenage mothers in Agege Local Government Area of Lagos State.

3.  To determine the cultural barriers that influence access to birth, control drugs and programmes.

4.  To study how media awareness, family, religious institutions, etc. has created the needed information that will help unmarried teenage mothers plan their future.

1.5      SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The outcome of this study will be of immense importance to those who are directly involved in managing unplanned teenage pregnancy issues, especially those who handle training and development functions of NGO organizations. It would give insight into the coping strategy methods and how best to overcome stigmatization and alienation in the society. Not only this the study will look into the benefits which accrue from giving the girl child help and access to duality information and care when needed, it will also lead, to a better understanding of those factors such as family planning, use of contraceptives, abortion, sexual transmitted diseases, communication and safe sexual relationships. More importantly, the study will help us to know if developing good framework that can transform the quality of life of the girl child and enhanced her overall performance.

1.6    SCOPE AND DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY

This study focuses on the causes and challenges of stigmatization and alienation faced by unmarried teenage mothers who were actually involved in the area of study. It will be open to female victims of teenage motherhood for a comparative analysis. The location under study will be restricted to some selected villages under Agege Local Government of Lagos State. In all, the study will be useful to health planners to fashion out better ways to project quality of safe life and living for the women and children population in setting achievable standards concerning issues of stigmatization and alienation of unmarried teenage mothers in the society.

1.7    DEFINITION OF TERMS

ALIENATION: The condition of being estranged or disassociated from the surrounding society.

DISCRIMINATION: Discrimination is an action, a process in which members of one or more groups is a form of racism which those discriminated is a minority. The process of denying opportunities and equal rights to individuals and groups because of prejudice or other arbitrary reasons. Cashmor, (1996) defined discrimination as the unfavourable treatment of all persons socially assigned to a particular category.

FAMILY: Family is a social group whose members are related by ancestry, marriage, or adoption and live together, cooperate economically, and care for the young (Muddock, 1949).

LABELING: the process whereby some individuals come to be tagged as deviants, begin to think of themselves as deviants, and enter deviant careers Howard S. Becker (1963).

SOCIETY: A fairly large number of people who live in the same territory, are relatively independent of people outside it and participate in a common culture (Lenski et al. 1995).

STIGMA: A label used to devalue members of deviant social groups. The phenomenon whereby an individual with an attribute is deeply discredited by his/her society or rejected as a result of the attribute. It is a process through which normal identity is influenced negatively by the reaction of others (Goffman, 1963).

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