Religious leaders in Ogun state, Sunday stressed the need for the incorporation of family planning and sex education messages into religious teachings to correct the misconceptions surrounding reproductive and family health.
The leaders, under the aegis of Interfaith Association on Family Planning and Childbirth Spacing, emphasised the need for the dissemination of right messages on family planning, especially by religious leaders to their congregations.
The Ogun state Chairman of the Interfaith Coalition on Family Planning and Childbirth Spacing, Venerable Richard Akinboyewa made the call at the meeting of members of the Association in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun state.
According to the Akinboyewa, the Coalition which comprises, clerics from Christian and Islamic religions and Mission birth attendants, is a family planning advocacy group saddled with the responsibility of educating and enlightening people on the benefits of modern methods of family planning.
Akinboyewa said, it had become imperative for religious leaders to incorporate family planning and sex education messages into their teachings to drastically reduce teenage pregnancy, maternal mortality rate and abortion, among others.
He disclosed that both Christianity and Islam support family planning and childbirth spacing, arguing that family planning does not promote promiscuity as believed by some people.
His words, “We can preach family planning from the pulpits. At the interfaith level, we have a preaching manual booklet with biblical and Islamic references that we make use of. Where the bible support family planning and those are the places we use in passing across our messages.
“We should about preach it (family planning), especially when we are counselling young people during marriage counselling because if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. So planning is very, very good.
“Those young people that are preparing to get married must be counselled on family planning. From the onset, they must know how many children they are going to have, what resources they have to take care of them.
Speaking on the Ogun state government’s efforts on propagating family planning message, the cleric said, “the state government is aware of our activities. The Ministry of health and the state primary healthcare board are supporters of what we are doing and we have been working together to ensure safe family health.”
Addressing the misconception that family planning promote promiscuity among women, the cleric said, “You don’t have to do family planning before you can become promiscuous. There are so many partners that are not faithful to one another even without family planning. But what we advise couples is that they should trust each other, once they have that, the man won’t deny the women of family planning. It is a misconception but it is happening among couples that lack trust in their partners.”
Also speaking, Alhaja Ogunmoye Hairat Olukemi, a member of the Advocacy Working Group (AWG) and Interfaith Coalition, quoting a verse from the Qur’an, said “a woman must stay two years after another delivery before conception”, arguing that this shows that Islam also recognises family planning.
She advised parents to always take their teenage children for advice and counselling, saying this “will prevent untimely death and teenage pregnancy because so many of them (teenagers) just get into these problems without the knowing anything. Out of curiosity and peer group pressure, they want to have sex.”