Estimated reading time: 18 minute(s)
Young as Dr Opeyemi Adeyemi is, she has dedicated large part of her life in making sure that students at secondary schools and primary schools have the right knowledge when it comes to sexual education. Through her Non-Governmental Organisation, Yemi Adeyemi Foundation, Dr. Adeyemi has visited over 20 primary and secondary schools across the country to give sex talks and counseling to teenagers and the need for them to abstain from sexual intercourse at their youthful age, SODIQ OJUROUNGBE writes.
In the space of two and half years, the Yemi Adeyemi Foundation has directly impacted in no fewer than 6,000 students in different primary and secondary schools across the country with the aim of reducing high rate of rape, unwanted pregnancies and sexual transmitted diseases among teenagers.
For her passion in educating the teenagers about sex, in 2018, Dr. Adeyemi published an educational children’s book for ages 8 and above which teaches young girls about parts of their body and the journey through puberty.
However, due to her experience with some of the students and the surge in reports of sexual abuse across the country, Dr. Adeyemi saw the need to write another book in 2020 titled “Sex Education Made Easy: A manual to help parents teach sex education with confidence”.
The book which had about 120 pages with 11 chapters was written by Dr. Adeyemi to serve as a guide for parents on how to teach their children about sex at different stages. The book also discussed thoroughly issues surrounding unwanted pregnancies and STDs.
In a recent interview, Dr. Adeyemi, a medical graduate from Sumy State University, Sumy Ukraine narrated some of her experiences with primary and secondary school students and what her foundation is doing to assist them in becoming a better person, PLATFORM TIMES brings EXCERPT;
I am a Medical doctor and a sexual and reproductive health educator. I got my medical degree from Sumy State University, Sumy Ukraine and went ahead to get a masters in public health from the University of South Wales, Wales, United Kingdom before coming back home to do my internship and NYSC. My interest in Sexual and Reproductive health started a little over three years ago during my youth service in a town called Moniya, I realized how little women knew about their menstrual cycle, ovulation, contraceptives and so many issues related to their reproductive system. I also met with teenagers who had Sexually transmitted infection or unwanted pregnancies or sexually assaulted. this for me was the moment i decided I was going to do this and ensure that I am one of the top names mentioned when it comes to causing a change in the sexual and reproductive health in Nigeria.
The journey so far
It’s been a learning curve for me, I’ve learnt respect for culture and religion and the role it plays in this fight for change. I’ve had to teach myself to be patient and kind with words to parents, teachers and children. Sex is still a taboo word in this country, yes people engage in it an there are a lot of sexual crimes but it almost seems as if no one wants to talk about it. The first hurdle with schools is breaking down the concept of comprehensive sex education, the fact that it is age appropriate and covers other subjects and not just sexual act. There are some schools that you have to have meetings to break down everything you plan to say because they are usually scared that sex education might introduce sexual liberation amongst their students. I remember one I had at a Girls only school in Lagos, during the question and answer session, one of the girls asked about the use of a cucumber during sexual play and if that is dangerous. The look on the counselors face would forever be one to remember.
I think we have refused to admit what data is saying about this issues, UNICEF reported in 2015 that one in four girls and one in ten boys in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18.According to a survey by Positive Action for Treatment Access, over 31.4 percent of girls there said that their first sexual encounter had been rape or forced sex of some kind. The topic of sexual abuse is one that has overstayed its welcome and has made a home in our nation. One major tool in fighting sexual abuse is information. The world has grown so invasive that any version of information can be accessed across screens. The television, radio and Almighty internet.
How do we utilize the information tool?
Extensive dissemination of accurate information. I have spent the last few years visiting various secondary schools in Lagos, Oyo and Ogun State running The Brave Club and have come in contact with over 10,000 students and after every session there is at least a story of sexual assault that is brave enough to speak out
Changing the narrative of giving the right information about sexual health
My initial step was publishing my first book in 2018, an educational children’s book for ages 8 and abover which teaches young girls about parts of their body people talk about in hushed tones and the journey through puberty, Hence the title I’m a lady now: your passbook to womanhood. I pride myself in my first book because it was written in a simple language with colourful illustrations and I know it has helped young girls take possession of their body.
My second book which was released last month was a different experience, I finished it while working as a frontline doctor in the present COVID-19 pandemic, I was torn by the great surge in reports of sexual abuse. I had started the project but was just taking it slow but the surge drove me to finish and publish Sex Education Made Easy: A manual to help parents teach sex education with confidence. This will help parents maximally utilize this period of close and long periods with their children by giving proper sex education. I understand that many parents do not know what to say or how to go about it because it was not something that was passed to us, we also got the lazy and fearful sex education. So this is a way to change the narrative for the new generation that is exposed to so much information. It is time for home based sex education to do way more that ‘If a man touches you’
Asides from writing books I do various workshops, last year we ran the TAASA (Taking Action Against Sexual Assault) project together with the Asher Initiative which was dedicated to the sensitization of the public on the physical and mental effect of sexual assault. I have also spoken on platforms like TEDX on issues about Sexual health.
If you also follow my social media pages especially Instagram @dryemz , I create both pictorial and video content consistently.
I see an influential future, being part of policy making as regards sexual and reproductive health as well as having more workshops to train parents and teachers on comprehensive sex education.