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NIGERIA: Divorce a Tool To Relegate Women

Fijabi: 'Divorce is not favourable to women. Education can help women to assert their rights, but the law has to make provision for it first before they can seek for such rights.'

Toye Olori interviews MUFULIAT FIJABI, senior programme officer, BAOBAB

LAGOS, Aug 20 (IPS) - The high rate of divorce in Kano state, northern Nigeria has become a worrisome phenomenon. Six months ago, an organisation of widows and divorcees tried to stage a massive march through the city of Kano to draw attention to their situation.

Voices of Women, Divorcees and Orphans of Nigeria cancelled the march, under heavy pressure from religious authorities and others in the state. But the difficult conditions faced by divorced women and their children remains an urgent issue in Kano and elsewhere in the north.

Mufuliat Fijabi, a senior programme officer with BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights, an NGO based in Lagos, told IPS that "divorce is just a tool to relegate women to the background". Baobab has outreach teams working throughout northern Nigeria to educate women about their rights and how to defend them.

Excerpts of Fijabi's interview follow.

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Why Is Viagra Popular and the Condom Controversial?


By Johanna Son

BALI, Aug 14 (TerraViva/IPS) - Why is the popular drug Viagra so praised for its virtues, while the condom is vilified by conservative religious groups among others the world over?

Both are ‘external’ technological interventions that relate to sexual activity. They are among the most prominent tools in the area of reproductive health and sexuality.

But it is the gender and sexual ideologies behind them - especially when combined with conservative religious forces and aspects of patriarchal culture - that put them on opposite ends of the spectrum of public acceptance.

The result is a paradox that has huge implications for public health, especially in relation to the HIV and AIDS pandemic that is now entering its third decade and affects 33 million people worldwide.

As Michael Tan, a reproductive health activist and chair of the University of the Philippines anthropology department put it: "Why is Viagra so desired and condoms so repulsive in many cultures?"

Tan stressed, condoms are in the World Health Organisation (WHO) list of essentials - unlike Viagra. In other words, the social and institutional acceptance levels of Viagra and condoms are "totally opposite to the biomedical truth."

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