I am proud of my faith, it has contributed in some way to this journey that I am on today. Faith or religion is one of those things that for most of mankind is a preordained aspect of your life. The majority of us are born into being Seventh Day Adventist, Jewish, Muslim, Latter Day Saint or like in my case – Catholic.
Most of my earliest memories are associated with some kind of church service. My father was in seminary, not to say that he was exceptionally good or kind, but in my world he was a genuinely good, giving, caring and extremely humble person. My father was a lawyer. He genuinely cared about people that he ‘helped’ as he termed his work. I never once heard him saying ‘client’ or ‘represent’ or any of that legal jargon that you hear on cop shows. To me the way he lived his life, the way he treated others, the dignity and simplicity he radiated are things that I can only hope to duplicate in my life. I hope that wherever my father is - he is looking on with some sense of pride in the work I am doing today.
Which brings me to the crux of the matter. My work. My faith. My work. To say that they are opposite is and understatement! Catholicism and modern contraceptive methods are like oil and water. Conflicting opposite beliefs and views. My church has a very firm stance against modern contraception. I work for an international NGO called Marie Stopes International. Marie Stopes provides informed, quality family planning. Family Planning. Contraception.
Today the 26th of September a handful of international NGOs, government organizations and medical science organization will be commemorating the 8th World Contraceptive Day. A day where ideas, information experiences are shared to reaffirm and promote that every birth should be wanted, to empower young people to make informed choices for the good of their sexual and reproductive health.
So where do I stand? The statistics and the stories that many women have shared with me over the last 12 months, prove and confirm for me that modern contraception is a necessary tool. Like any other tool it can also be used as a weapon and be harmful. Like any other tool it is the wielder of the item that makes it either helpful or destructive.
Like a bush knife. Put it in the hands of a subsistence farmer and it becomes a hoe, a grass cutter, a spade, a crow-bar. Put it in the hands of a serial killer and it becomes a weapon of mass destruction, a means of overpowering, a means of exercising dominion over another and the list of evil one can do is endless.
I have heard many influential and educated people blaming the tool for wielders individual choice and behavior. It is not access to contraceptives that makes one promiscuous! It is not access to contraceptives that make a man leave his wife for a young women! No! The thought to have sex, the act of getting undressed, the act of and sharing your nakedness and going through the process of having sex...the thought was always present prior to one seeking contraceptives! No!
When we are blaming modern contraceptive methods for society’s moral decay and rot, let us remember the majority of women in our rural areas. These women come to seek modern contraceptives, these women listen to what can happen, what does happen and how dangerous STIs are. The majority of these women are faithful to their husbands, the majority of these women wake up at the crack of dawn to prepare food for their family before they go off to the garden! They spend hours without eating or drinking, sitting at a market to sell what produce they’ve worked hard to harvest so that their children can go to school and have the opportunities they wish they had. The majority of women that seek Marie Stopes services walk barefoot, on an average of two hours to get their nearest health facility to get their sick child medical attention, they walk hours to buy soap and salt and other necessities. The majority of women seeking and accessing modern contraceptives are the average mothers in the village, not your femme fatal that wants to get that super rich-old-married-man!
Yes! Yes contraception is a tool that must and should never go without in-depth and thorough counseling, and this responsibility to counsel and give information should not be the responsibility of the person giving the contraceptive! Oh no! That responsibility should fall on parents, on ALL fathers and mothers. All of us in society are responsible to make sure that all our youth understand that sex comes with a cost ALWAYS! It is never just a one-time thing, it is not ‘samting bilong pilai pilai’. As a society all adults have a role to play to ensure that our youth understand the consequences of sex.
I am Catholic. It is who I am. I work for Marie Stopes, that is what I do. I believe that contraceptives are a useful development tool that should not be denied to any woman or man that seeks them. In the end we all know what our thoughts, desires and future actions will be. As a society we are responsible to inform our youth on the dangers and reality of having sex. Let us educate our youth so they make informed and responsible choices, so that they have children by choice and not chance!