Marie Stopes Nigeria opened its first clinic in 2009. On 21 May 2019, their Lagos clinic was raided by police, though MSI assures us that the clinic remains open. Eighteen Nigerian NGOs and 37 individuals who support women’s rights published the following petition, defending the clinic:
End The War on Nigerian Women!
On Tuesday, 21 May, police officers raided a Marie Stopes Clinic in Lagos, harassed the health workers and patients and took away confidential client information. Marie Stopes offers free and affordable family planning services to women and men, pregnancy tests, pre- and post-natal care, treatment and services for sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing and ultrasound and laboratory services. They have trained staff who offer counselling and treatment especially to those who cannot afford the costs at private hospitals. To raid a centre that provides such services is sending a message to women and girls as well as men and boys, that they are not safe in health centres and that they don’t deserve access to quality health services without fear or judgement…
This is happening in a country that contributes 10% to the global burden of maternal deaths, ranking fourth after Sierra Leone, Chad and the Central African Republic. Safe spaces where women can access confidential and non-judgmental sexual and reproductive health services are vital and we don’t have enough of them to reduce the risk of maternal deaths. Just before the raid in Lagos yesterday, the Minister of Health was testifying before the Nigerian Senate about the overburdened health system, the deplorable state of General Hospitals in the country and the need to revitalize the tertiary and primary health care system in Nigeria. Women and girls are dying from preventable deaths because of lack of access to quality sexual and reproductive health services…
Recently released Nigeria Demographic & Health Survey 2018 data show that 19% of married women in Nigeria have an unmet need for family planning services. Marie Stopes shouldn’t be punished for offering a spectrum of services, including family planning, to those who need and want it, especially women, married and unmarried… The National Strategic Health Development Plan 2018–2022 recognizes the importance of this work, which is why one of its pillars is to “Promote universal access to comprehensive quality sexual and reproductive health services throughout the life cycle and reduce maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent morbidity and mortality in Nigeria.”… Marie Stopes’ work is supporting the government in making sure Nigeria can achieve its targets.
10% of maternal deaths in Nigeria are due to unsafe abortion. Access to safe abortion is restricted in Nigeria, and can only take place in circumstances where a woman’s life is at risk. Even though safe abortion services are restricted, access to post-abortion care (a service for women and girls who have medical complication as a result of unsafe abortion) is not restricted. Nigerian laws and policies uphold women and girls’ rights to post-abortion services, a much needed service that Marie Stopes provides. Services providers who are implementing these policies and guidelines should not be subjected to harassment and intimidation for performing their jobs. These healthcare workers are providing care and saving lives; actions that should be praised and promoted.
These efforts to demonize and block access to legal services are being funded in Nigeria by a Spanish organization called CitizenGO. CitizenGo is a partner to an SPLC designated hate group World Congress of Families and the city of Madrid has banned their activities calling their campaigns hate-based. CitizenGo and its extremist partners have been organizing trainings in Nigeria and Kenya within the past 18 months, trying to block women’s access to critical healthcare. They should not be allowed to instigate the harassment of women making informed choices about their health, and health workers who are provided life-affirming services. They are an intolerant group and they are bringing their hate mongering to Nigeria.
Signed: Education as a Vaccine, Nigerian Feminist Forum, Alliances for Africa, Women’s Crisis Centre, Project Alert, Vision Springs Initiative, The Initiative for Equal Rights, Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative, Equality Hub, Ake Arts and Book Festival, NoMore Campaign, Above Whispers, 9jafeminista, Stand to End Rape, International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, Autamaimasa Health Foundation, Drug Free and Preventative Healthcare Organization, Women’s Rights and Health Project, and 37 individualsSOURCES: AllAfrica.com, 23 May 2019 ; Marie Stopes Nigeria ; INFOGRAPHIC, Slideshow, 23 May 2019