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I feel the pain of the Nigerian man who found out after 32 years that his son wasn’t his but could this be related to the extreme bias against childless women in Africa?

By Nina Steele 

Nigerian man on Jeremy Kyle show finds son isn’t his after 32 yearsLike the many people who have made their voices heard since the Jeremy Kyle show aired about the Nigerian man who discovered that his son wasn’t his after 32 years, I felt great sadness for him. Who wouldn’t? Although I don’t normally watch the show, the publicity about this particular story was such that I felt compelled to see a clip of it. As you would expect, the mother has been roundly condemned. Here is a selection of the many comments that were posted about the story: “Women are just pure evil”, “some mothers are cruel. How can you live with that… so unfair. Should be custodial sentence for hiding the truth”, “60 percent of children in Nigeria are victims of the same story”, “about two out of every ten first born are illegitimate and are often given to the wrong fathers by their promiscuous mothers”. And so it went. No one bothered to ask what could have made the woman cheat in the first place. Was it a straight forward case of promiscuity as many have suggested, or is there more to the story?

As I have written many times before, having children is considered the foundation upon which a marriage rests in Africa. As soon as a couple gets married, the pressure is on for them to conceive. If they fail to do so after one or two years, the pressure becomes unbearable and it is the wife who always bears the brunt of it. She is automatically seen as the one with the problem, and if God forbid, she is not on good terms with her mother in law, it becomes open warfare. It is a horrible situation for any woman to find herself in. No wonder some of them are willing to do anything in order to avoid being vilified in this way.

So, before anyone rushes to blame the woman, I suggest that they try to understand the culture first. Yes there are some women who are promiscuous, but equally, many of those cases are created by a culture that is inherently bias against childless women.

If people in Africa want to avoid situations such as this one, they should change their mindsets and accept that infertility is a fact of life and that anyone can suffer from it. It is the ignorance of the majority of Africans regarding issues related to infertility that is leading many women to cheat in order to become pregnant. Stop making women into scapegoats whenever a couple is unable to conceive, and chances are that you will see less cases like this one.

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