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POPULATION MOBILITY AND MULTI PARTNER SEX: SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONSIDERATION
Joseph O. Jiboku
Department of Sociology, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye
Keywords: Mobility; multi-partner; sex; health
No man is an island, so the popular saying goes and so interaction among people is as old as history. The desire to satisfy human wants necessitates interactions and movements across boundaries and continents. Even within the country, people crisscross the length and breadth of the country for trading and other commercial activities. Lagos, the Nigerian centre of commerce, receives many people on daily basis who have come to trade and return to their places of abode. Kano, Aba, Onitsha, Port-Harcourt are among other popular commercial towns and cities where people visit to buy goods. Such activities of these people who move from one place to another for trading purposes and in order to make a living through other ventures connected with long distance economic endeavours have implications on reproductive health as well as on the socio-economic development of the country.
Population Mobility is associated with the proportion of the population that is in the active category who are able to move from one place to another. This includes traders who move from place to place for trade purposes. In addition, long distance travelers – Truck Drivers and Sea men are also included in this segment of the population that is highly mobile because of the nature of their jobs. In sum, therefore, persons of ages between fifteen and
Journal of Research in National Development 6(2) December, 2008
forty-five can be conceptualized as the proportion of a population that is mobile. The ages below fifteen are wholly dependent and those of forty-five and above would seriously think of settling down and consolidating themselves than going around in search of greener pastures.
Most often, Population Mobility is often associated with the search for greener pastures. Like Ekong (1988), rightly observes, population movement or migration is basically a reflection of the imbalance in opportunities and life chances which exist between places. It may be permanent and at other times temporary. People who move from place to place always have in their minds to ‘make it’ in their new places of destination more than they had ‘made it’ in their former places. It is mostly a desire to forge ahead, extend frontiers of businesses and discover places where commercial activities can yield more profits. However, what they fail to consider is the effects of their movements to the new places. Population will increase and may cause over-population while the former places of abode may experience under-population; the demand for basic necessities of life has to increase and family ties tend to be affected. All these have implications on Reproductive Health and on the socio-economic developments of different parts of the country. In most cases also, the desired achievements of such persons may be truncated by other social factors.
Persons who, on account of the nature of their jobs are often times on transit like the truck drivers, who according to Isiugo-Abanihe and Odiagbe (1998), patronize commercial sex workers are also included in the category of persons with multi sex partners. The males of society are mostly associated with the phenomenon of multi-partner sex. ‘It is a man’s world’, many would say. But this is not quite untrue because of the patriarchal nature of the Nigerian society. Suffice to say that Multi-Partner Sex can also be linked with the female counterpart of society as many of the commercial sex workers on the streets of major cities and towns are women. They engage in commercial sex, on many occasions to make ends meet and this act of prostitution has constituted one of the negative social problems of society.
Reasons for Multi-Partner Sex
Culturally also, the patriarchal nature of society does not frown at men having multiple partners. Culture condones this action on the part of men and seriously frowns and condemns such on the side of the women. Again, Isiugo-Abanihe (2003) and Makinwa-Adebusoye (1993), also observed that when people are away from their known places of abode, the social restraint that they are being watched is removed and this gives room for
higher probability of engaging in multi-partner sex whereas in their usual places of residence, there is a higher level of self-restraint. This is true because the truck drivers who engage in long distance travel and patronize commercial sex workers are not likely to do so in an environment where they are seen as parents and responsible members of the society.
Other reasons could be on the ground of infertility as many men who have found it difficult to have children with their wives at home may desire to ‘experiment’ with other women outside in order to get desired number of children. The man could also desire to try his luck in search of a male child if the wife at home has only succeeded in bearing female children. The seamen who leave their homes for months are also highly prone to engage in multi-partner sex to satisfy emotional urge as a result of long absence from home.
Another category of persons involved in this act are the military and policemen who may be on mission assignments for months and in some cases many years. They get involved in the phenomenon of multi-partner sex due to the nature of their assignments which make them to be separated from their loved ones for a long time. There is also the desire to make ends meet, especially on the part of the female counterparts of society as the reasons for prostitution may be to fulfil certain obligations which supposed family members have failed to satisfy.
Effects on Reproductive Health
may lead to a peaceful and safe child birth. The question one then asks is: How can a man with multiple sex partners, who most times is on transit, be able to give the required support by putting the other partner into serious consideration?
The implication is that multiple sex partners can lead to children being born out of wedlock whose health and physical well being may not be taken care of especially where the mothers do not have a stable means of income. In fact, the good health of the mother in pregnancy may not even be guaranteed where she has no means of livelihood. There are other instances where the men even disown the pregnancies of their former sex partners leaving the burden of pregnancy and child care to the woman alone. A mother that is not well fed during pregnancy could have problems in the course of child delivery and even the physique of the child could be affected due to malnourishment.
Makinwa-Adebusoye (1993), also identified the probability of absentee husbands contracting sexually transmitted diseases especially in these days of the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the society. The wife or wives at home could be infected while the children become unsafe. All these will have adverse effects on reproductive health.
Implications for Socio-Economic Development
of the society engaging in multi-partner sex have negative consequences on the socio-economic development of individuals and the larger society.
At the level of the individual, a lot of financial resources are expended on maintaining multi-sex partners. This includes amounts expended on housing, clothing, healthcare, feeding and other minor expenses. The Nigerian Home Video, the Nollywood, which is the mirror of society, sometimes depicts the cases of men who even abandon the care and welfare of their homes for their illicit sexual partner(s). The men are most times hypnotized and before they regain consciousness have lost a lot of their material possessions to the sexual partner(s). The ladies themselves are not spared in this case as some of them who go around with ‘Aristo’ sugar daddies (whose sources of income are often times questionable) sometimes become victims of ritual kills in the hands of their ‘benefactors’. In 2007, the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Programme, Newsline, beamed its searchlight on the case of a lady who left Benin for Lagos and subsequently disappeared after visiting her second boyfriend.
When such illicit relationships involve the welfare of off-springs, a lot more is expended. Money expended on such necessities could have been used to consolidate the economic status and position of such persons and even their family members (if they have) and that is why a lot of drivers in Lagos and other popular cities and towns work very hard under difficult conditions, make a lot of money of which a larger proportion of such earnings are consumed on daily basis by numerous partners and concubines. The effect is that such people work for many years with little or nothing to show for it.
In some cases, the women with their off-springs are abandoned and left to fend for themselves and their children and this action has dire consequences on their well-being and on the nutrition, health, education and general
living of their children. When such women do not have a stable means of livelihood, what they do is to resort to all forms of prostitution. Prostitution itself has its own multiplier effect on parties that are involved as money is also expended by the men to take care of the women involved.
At the societal level, a lot of resources that should have been invested and re-invested into the economy are consumed by the society. The poor health, nutrition, housing and other social vices in the society can be traced to this phenomenon of multi-partner sex, resulting in conception and birth of children that are not planned for. Consequently, from their early stage in life, these children suffer deprivations which affect almost all facets of their lives. Some of them grow to constitute problems to the society due to lack of parental care from their early life. The society today is saddled with rehabilitating such people at a very high cost .
In sum, therefore, with the present state of economic downturn, a man who has numerous sexual partners, will not be well positioned to contribute to development bearing in mind the number of women and the numerous children outside matrimony and sometimes within his household who depend on him.
The Way Forward
There is need for mass education and enlightenment of the people particularly the segment that is more prone to this act on the subject of Reproductive Healthy and the dangers of multi-partner sex. This mass enlightenment has to include all segments of society: the literates and illiterate men and women; youths; boys and girls, and should be in the simplest language possible. Avoiding multi-partner sex will help stem the tide of the spread of STDs and especially the much dreaded HIV/AIDS. More efforts are needed in this direction from governmental institutions, non-governmental institutions and our educational institutions. In fact, there is need to create this awareness in the young ones by including in their school curricula, more subjects that expose them to issues on sex and health, generally, and AIDS in particular.
The government also needs to do more in providing jobs for unemployed youths and making rural areas more attractive to stem the tide of population mobility. Like Oyekanmi (2003), rightly suggested, banking and loan facilities could be made available to people especially youths and rural dwellers so as to encourage self employment and thereby help to slow the drift of population from rural to urban areas in search of wage employments which is increasingly becoming a mirage with the present day economic situation of Nigeria. Citizens should have access to the basic necessities of life and at least be satisfied that
the government has not failed in fulfilling their own bargain of social responsibilities. This also will go a long way in curbing social vices like prostitution and armed robbery
The orientation of men as husbands and heads of families on the issues of reproductive health; of having many children; of searching for male children and of having the feeling that ‘it is a man’s world’, should change. On the other hand, women empowerment is another issue that should be seriously considered. Women should no longer be relegated to the background. They should be enlightened and trained to take up responsibilities and assist the men to meet family needs. The family is the smallest unit of society and when it is developed, such development would spread across to the society. Development, first and foremost must be human centred. It is the individuals that are agents of development in society and so should be properly guided.
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Isiugo-Abanihe, U.C. (2003) Male Role and Responsibility In Fertility and
Isiugo-Abanihe, U.C. and Odiagbe, S.(1998) “Sexual Life On the HighWay:
Lawoyin, T.O., Osinowo, H.O. and Walker, M.E., 2000, “Extra-Marital
Makinwa-Adebusoye, “Determinants and Socio-Economic Consequences of
Ogunjuyigbe, P.O., “Ecology and Population”, in: Ogunbameru, K.A. and
Orubuloye, I.O., “Sexual Networking in the Ekiti District of Nigeria”, in:
Oyekanmi, F.A.D., “Socio-Demographic Characteristics of Households and
Xiushi, Y. and Guomei, X., “Gender, Migration, Risky Sex And HIV
FIG: 3.0 This attractive recreation area is in a housing development in the heart of New York City, (Courtesy of New York City Housing Authority).
Table 1: Rate of demand for recreational activities
Table II: Rate of non demand for recreational activities
Source: Field work (2008)
Percentage number of People