Rape, teenage pregnancy: Myths, misconceptions of Valentine’s Day




Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated on February 14, is to mark the remembrance of St Valentine, a 3rd-century Roman saint, by Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches. However, Nigerians, especially the youth, have turned the day into an occasion to engage in sexual activities as proof of love, with cases of rape often recorded, even as teenage pregnancies, traced to the myths and misconceptions associated with the day, are often recorded. PAUL OKAH reports. 

According to Wikipedia, “Saint Valentine was a clergyman – either a priest or a bishop – in the Roman Empire, who ministered to persecuted Christians. He was martyred and his body buried at a Christian cemetery on the Via Flaminia on February 14, which has been observed as the Feast of Saint Valentine (Saint Valentine’s Day) since at least the eighth century.

“He was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius Gothicus. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner. However, when Valentinus tried to convert the emperor, he was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stones; when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate.

“There are many other legends behind Saint Valentine. One is that in the third century AD, it is said that Valentine, who was a priest, defied the order of the emperor Claudius and secretly performed Christian weddings for couples, allowing the husbands involved to escape conscription into the pagan army. This legend claims that soldiers were sparse at this time so this was a big inconvenience to the emperor. The account mentions that in order to remind these men of their vows and God’s love, Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment,’ giving them to these persecuted Christians, a possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on St. Valentine’s Day.”

However, over the years, a lot of negative concepts, myths and misconceptions have been introduced into the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day, with even secondary school students looking forward to the day to engage in sexual orgies which often lead to unplanned pregnancies, even as “unwilling” girls or women are raped by men. 

On a daily basis, cases of rape are recorded in states across the federation as women, girls and even boys are forced into having sex with aroused partners with tales of girls and women raped on St. Valentine’s Day by men they met on social media, especially on dating websites.

Teenage pregnancies

It is no longer news that teenage pregnancy is on the increase in Nigeria, especially in rural areas and at internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps across the country as a result of poverty and a widening gap between the rich and poor.

However, the myths and misconceptions associated with St. Valentine’s Day as a day to show love has led to ignorant girls literally “offering” their virginity to boys of secondary school age which often lead to unplanned pregnancies.

These boys who are still dependent on their parents and with no means of income many times deny responsibility, thereby forcing the defiled girls who are often primary or secondary school pupils/students to drop out of school to raise the babies on their own.  

Views

Speaking with this reporter, a guidance counsellor in Jabi, Abuja, Mrs. Patience Adegbenga, frowned upon what the youth have introduced to St. Valentine’s Day, advising parents and guardians to always monitor their children and wards.

She said, “Parents and guardians really have a lot to do with regards to educating their children and wards about sex and relationships. Sadly, girls of this generation now see relationship as an opportunity to make money. Many girls don’t want to learn skills or get jobs to take care of their needs. They rather depend on their boyfriends/fiancé to pay their bills.

“During Valentine’s Day, many girls accept gifts that will lead them into trouble. Out of greed, poverty and desperation, girls collect many gifts from their supposed mugu, who thereafter plan to rape them; that is if the girls are not willing to offer sex on St. Valentine’s Day as many girls are usually drugged and raped.

“Also, many teenagers lose their virginity, knowingly or unknowingly and end up with unplanned pregnancies in the name of Valentine’s Day celebration. February 14th or Valentine’s Day is the day they usually conceive and within a few months the result of Valentine’s Day celebration will start showing.

“Many husbands also run into trouble while trying to please their side chicks. Many teenage boys also test their first weed that day as many use February 14 to engage in youthful exuberance. However, the society should not take this day as a day of taking hard drugs to have sex or giving harmful substances to their friends. We will continue doing our best to counsel Nigerians and hope for positive changes.”

Also speaking, a civil servant based in Abuja, Mr. Joseph Temitope, said the moral decadence in society shows that education of the girl child should be a priority.

 “Valentine’s Day is widely regarded as a day of expressing love as couples around the world look forward to spending time with each other, sharing gifts, chocolates, champagne, etc. But, there’s more to the day than meets the eye. It also comes with pressure to some people, especially the unmarried. The thought of getting expensive gifts for loved ones often lead many youth to do what they are not supposed to do.

“The zeal to lose virginity becomes common, including heartbreaks, infections and incurable diseases and sometimes death. Also, aborting unwanted pregnancies after a sex romp becomes the negative side of present day celebration of Valentine’s Day.

“I was in a bus when I heard over the radio about a letter from a girl whose boyfriend disappeared upon learning of her pregnancy. She wrote on social media that she needed advice as her plan was to have an abortion so that she can win back her boyfriend. This is the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in the country and there is need for continued reorientation of the youth. We need a better society for our children, not a society of promiscuity,” he said. 

On his part, a social commentator, Mr. Fidelis Olisa, said the myth and misconception associated with St. Valentine’s Day have led to increase in societal ills.

He said: “Valentine’s Day celebration among teenagers is the lack of proper understanding. The show of love to loved ones is not about coitus engagement. Teenagers often want to exercise and practise what adults do either by the movies they watch or the things they listen to. Teenagers use the Val Day to organise parties to test run the desire for sexual satisfaction. Most of them usually have change of clothes in their school bags on this day, so that after school hours, they can join their colleagues to enjoy themselves in the name of love day.

“It engenders more sexual immoralities, such as prostitution for monetary gain. Teenage pregnancy leads to academic disruption for the ladies especially as no secondary institution will allow a pregnant lady as a student. Such individuals will have to suffer set academically can lead to drop out of school. Parents, teachers and the government need to do better in the education of children, students and the youth for a better society.”

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