Very Superstitious


The responses here are indicative of a couple of disconcerting truths:

  1. Considering that many less-commonly held myths were not included in this table, it’s probably safe to conclude that the range of myths floating around these and other developing communities is quite vast; and
  2. The degree to which much of the counterfactual information in this table is either accepted or not fully rejected (“don’t know”) indicates a severe deficiency in the way of quality, evidence-based sexual health and family planning information– an issue which, in and of itself, deserves further investigation.





It goes without saying that a variety of myths exist in each of these communities, but what’s perhaps more remarkable is the extent to which they are held to be valid.


SOURCE: Pregnancy data from table 6.1 in each survey; HIV response data from table 7.1



As might be expected, findings from this study indicated a negative association between individual acceptance of these myths and use of contraceptives. Kenyan women, for example, who believed an average of 4.6 out of 8 myths presented to them, would be roughly half as likely to use contraceptives as Nigerian women, who believed an average of 2.7 out of 8 myths.


An alarming share of both male and female respondents from the 2004 National Survey of Adolescents either responded ‘Yes’ or ‘Don’t Know’ when asked whether a woman can become pregnant if she washes herself thoroughly immediately after intercourse.


SOURCE: 2004 National Survey of Adolescents