Causes Of Pre-Marital Pregnancy In Nigerian Society

Causes Of Pre-Marital Pregnancy In Nigerian Society

Causes Of Pre-Marital Pregnancy In Nigerian Society

Pre-marital pregnancy has attained terrifying dimension that it has become a social problem facing the Nigerian society. It is so undesirable that people should not only disapprove it verbally, but something should be done to combat it.

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Pre-marital pregnancy as a cankerworm has eaten deep into the fabric of most youths. Its problems, most prevalent of which is the resultant population increase that is growing geometrically out of the proportion, have undoubtedly continued to place unbearable burden on the individual, the family, the community and the entire society. For instance, it begets the much taunted illegitimate child who is often denied quality education and other social opportunities of legitimate inheritance consequently, it places upon him/her the status of a social nuisance. As such these have remained serious cogs in wheel of national development and economic progress till today.

Delamount (1980), said that pregnancy out of wedlock are abnormal and undesirable. The desire to have a baby by an unmarried mother is selfish and needs explanation to why she should. Hoftman (1997), observed that unmarried mothers have fewer friends, belong to fewer organisations and participate in fewer recreational activities than the married women. He maintained that the girls in question are looked down because they have made themselves social misfits. There is then obvious need for a proper understanding of what pregnancy and pre-marital pregnancy denote.

The term pregnancy naturally connotes good tidings and fortune in all universe; however, that is only when it is applied in a rightful way. Thus, when a married woman becomes pregnant, both the woman and her relations and indeed the entire society rejoices greatly. It is a most deserving, praising and rewarding event, a symbol of future happiness, better days, and practically the actual consummation of a legitimate marriage. Furthermore, it is ethically sanctioned by Christians as the Holy Book, the Bible, enunciates in Genesis “God created man in his own image, male and female He created them. And God blessed them, and he said to them, “Go ye into the world be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it. (Refer to Genesis 1: 27, 28).

However, when the word “pre-marital comes before pregnancy” it assumably becomes a misfortune, an unreconcilable insult, an undesirable evil; usually not welcomed by the family, the community and even the entire society. This is because of its perceived and manifest social and other related problems. In light of this, pre-marital pregnancy is an illegal pregnancy happening before marriage (in this study, unmarried pregnancy is used to refer to pregnancy among girls between twelve and eighteen (12 – 18) years of age (children).

At this point, it is worthy to note that the continued high rate of pre-martial pregnancy in Nigeria is traceable to post Nigerian civil-war due to low socio-economic status of people as noted by Onakeko M.O. et al (1996); in African Journal of Medical Sciences. Pre-marital pregnancy has been extensively written on in medical journals, as it has become part of everyday occurrence. Specifically, many families, schools (especially secondary), villages, and cities have often witnessed cases of pre-marital pregnancy. It is regrettable therefore, that these embarrassing occurrences happen at a period in our national life when the campaign for population control and against Human Immuno-deficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is rife and other related sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea, syphilis among others.

Nowadays however, with increasing awareness and influence of foreign culture, a new trend of social morality seems to have taken place, as young girls increasingly tend to regard sexual dealings as their own private affairs and not any other persons’ business. Youngsters see sexual intercourse as their right, which nobody has any locus standing to interfere with, despite the fact that most of them are hardly aware of the negative implications of early involvement in the act. Thus as these sexual excesses continue amidst the initial momentary pleasure and sexual fulfilment, these young girls often find themselves entrapped by the reality of all that are at stake; pregnancy and abandonment.

From a closer perspective, one could summarily say that the youths of today are constantly bombarded with sexuality through advertisement, music, x-rated movies and television to mention a few. Many of the girls offer sex as a gift in their bargaining for the attention of young men. The picture even gets darker when you consider the results of a 1993 study of school-age-mothers in California; a state in United States of America. It turned out that two-third of the girls had become pregnant, not by teenage boyfriends but by men over thirty (30) years of age! In fact, some studies indicate that many unmarried mothers are victims of statutory rape or even child abuse. Such widespread exploitation reveals how sick and depraved modern society such as Nigeria has become.

The aforementioned situation has led the researcher to attempt a study on the problems of pre-marital pregnancy with the aim of finding out those factors that promote it, as well as proffer solutions to abate it or through which it could be considerably reduced. This is by educating readers on the “whys” and “hows” of the issue. This will assure a sustained future for the parents, society and our young girls. To achieve this, Obeagu, community in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi in Nigeria was selected as a case study. This community was purposefully chosen to expose the ills that have gradually made the youths of modern Nigeria particularly the girls endangered species where rural communities once known for moral sanctity and excellence have lost their ethical values to the sex scourge.



The major problems to be addressed in this research project are the causes and consequences of pre-marital pregnancy as embedded in socio-economic and religious spheres. Pre-marital pregnancy also known as unmarried motherhood is a universal phenomenon, which exists in all societies of the world, which develops and legalises social institutions that gave rise to the family.

Based on the above statement, it is pertinent that we state some of the causes of pre-marital pregnancy. According to Davis (1983), most of the causes associated with teenage pregnancies are now thought to be related to the low mentality of youngsters and bad home condition. He also observed that the mothers did not practice use of contraceptive or they did practice it inefficiently.

According to Simon (2003), African illegitimate rate is by far the greatest due to none acceptance of contraceptive and the general disapproval of abortion. Other important contributing factors according to him, include the late marrying age, uneven sex habits, poverty, and the excessive prominence given to sex in the contemporary European culture.

In view of this Ogenyi (2004), explained that, as it relates to lack of proper socialisation and poverty, that children who are not taken good care of by their parents indulge themselves in pre-marital sex. This is because if you have a grown up daughter and you cannot provide her with some of her necessary needs she will be out of control and try anything possible to “meet” up with other girls in town because girls these days spend a lot of money on clothes and cosmetics.

Going further, Adenyi (1968), maintains that a young girl who sets out to have a high time smoking or taking drugs may find herself pregnant without having had the chance to consider that possibility before hand.

In view of the above, pre-marital pregnancy as a problem has been so widespread in Obeagu community that people are alarmingly questioning the trend and departure from what it used to be. It has not only crippled the teenagers but also affected many families and rendered children fatherless. Meanwhile, parents in Obeagu town, like most other communities in Nigeria discourage the illegitimate child, the product of pre-marital pregnancy. The child out of wedlock is often denied inheritance rights, social amenities and welfare including adequate education. Legally, the child is not well protected by the traditions and customary practices, as he/she is largely disregarded in matters of property inheritance. All in all, the child faces more or less social ostracism in that he/she is scorned and looked down as a “bastard” and consequently a social misfit and outcast.

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This situation indeed poses a serious problem to the Obeagu community and the entire society in multifarious ways. A society with “fatherless” children is very likely to face various hardships as regarding catering for the welfare of such children. For instance where a child has no visible father to check his or her juvenile excesses, he or she is likely in the end to be delinquent, and that indeed poses a great threat to the society in which he or she lives.

Pre-marital pregnancy is a problem for the females in Obeagu community. Every female is expected to be married before getting pregnant. Where the contrary becomes the case, the female involved is looked down with scorn and disapproval. She is seen as having committed a social misfit. She therefore, undergoes the traumatic and threatening pregnancy condition without a husband to support and cater for her.

These unmarried pregnant girls usually range from twelve to eighteen (12 – 18) years of age. At this tender age, they are usually considered to be immature in their sense of reasoning, physical development and socio-economic capacity to maintain themselves and their expected children. At this range of age, they are only fit to be in school.

The causes of pre-marital or unwanted pregnancy, although had been explored at different times by several social researchers but is yet to be loudly stated and investigated within the cultural milieu of Obeagu. Above all, ways of curbing or remedying the problem have not been totally and exhaustively articulated.

It is against this backdrop that the escalation for pre-marital pregnancy and its disturbing consequences the most fatal of which is death, has become distressing. Never in the history of societies has there been the astonishing occurrence of pre-marital pregnancy. Every passing day, new entries are made in this catalogue of unmarried teenagers getting pregnant.

This study will therefore concern itself with the reason for or causes of pre-marital pregnancy based on the findings from the researcher’s chosen area. In the same vein, the study will in modest way attempt to proffer solutions and remedies to the problem, with a view to curtailing its future occurrence.


The following research questions will be proposed as a guide in the study of pre-martial pregnancy.

1. Is poverty one of the causes of pre-marital pregnancy?

2. Do parents lack of proper family orientation on their children serve as a contributory factor to pre-marital pregnancy?

3. Can lack of sex education to teenagers lead to pre-marital pregnancy?

4. To what extent can the avoidance of contraceptives by teenagers lead to pre-marital pregnancy?

5. What is the position of unemployment to pre-marital pregnancy?

6. Does premature dating lead to pre-marital pregnancy?



This research is generally designed to examine the factors responsible for the increasing rate of pre-marital pregnancy among the teenage girls and the problem they face in trying to adjust to this new status. The specific objectives of this study w ill include the following:

1. To discover the root causes of the problems of pre-marital pregnancy.

2. To ascertain the implications of impact of this social malady on the society.

3. To find out how the unmarried mothers support themselves and their children financially.

4. To find out the educational attainment of unmarried mothers before and after pregnancy so as to help them in solving some of their problems.

5. To find out the general attitude of the society towards pre-marital pregnancies and its contribution to the problems of unmarried mothers.

6. To find out the general attitude of parents towards these unmarried mothers.

7. To provide information that will help social scientists control and solve the problems experienced by unmarried mothers.



The significance of this study is numerous. The findings will in no small way help to reduce the causes of pre-marital pregnancies in our societies. It will assist not only the people of Obeagu community of Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, but also the entire society to conduct further studies on the causes and solutions to the problems of pre-marital pregnancy a the world advances towards a global village.

Knowledge obtained from this study will prove invaluable to its readers; it will not only inform, but it will also educate them. The various statistical data and analysis contained in the study will no doubt serve as invaluable aid and reliable working tool to further researchers on the topic.

Furthermore, the knowledge and information gained from this study will also help the unmarried mothers with a better understanding of their situation and hence adequately equip them psychologically to achieve their life aspirations and goals despite their unfavourable conditions.

Finally, the content and findings of this study will provide reference material to both policy makers and those in position of influence generally. It will guide them in making decisions and policy pronouncements that will particularly be of interest to government planning authorities, population agencies, such as National Population Commission (NPC), Education Curriculum Planners, as well as non-governmental organisations interested in safe motherhood like the Women Aid Collective (WACO) e.t.c.



The following hypotheses will be proposed as a guide in the study of unmarried teenage pregnancy or rather pre-marital pregnancy.

1. Sex education in schools, will help to reduce cases of pre-marital pregnancy.

2. Most girls involved in pre-marital pregnancies come from broken homes.

3. The occurrence of pre-marital pregnancy in Obeagu community is high due to none use of contraceptives and lack of knowledge of other artificial birth controls.

4. Less parental supervision leads to pre-marital pregnancy.

5. The occurrence of pre-marital pregnancy in Obeagu community is as a result of poverty level in the community.


In this section, time will be taken to clearly define some terms which are used in the course of this study. The following are some of the terms and concepts severally used in the course of this study. Although they may have other meanings or semantic variations, the researcher has carefully defined them with the context of their usage in this study.

Pre-marital Pregnancy: An illegal pregnancy happening before marriage (in this study, unmarried pregnancy is used to refer to pregnancy among girls between twelve and eighteen (12-18) years of age) (children).

Illegitimate: Children born out of wedlock (i.e who are not married to each other at the time of birth)

Taboo: Pre-marital pregnancy is seen as a taboo in Obeagu community, in the sense that, it is not appreciated in our time, it is forbidden by the tradition, custom and religion of the land.

Stigmatized: This refers to when an unmarried mother is scorned, neglected, ostracised, rejected and consequently lives dejected.

Social Malaise: The general feeling of being in difficult situations – being ill, unhappy or not satisfied. This affects a particular group of people as a result of a perceived deviant behaviour in the society.

Outcast: Outcast is seen as a person (pre-marital mother, in this case) who has been ostracised or excommunicated from the other members of the family or community, or if allowed to stay back, the person in banned from partaking in communal activities.

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The study area is Obeagu community in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Nigeria. It is still a semi-rural community especially when we consider the style of living that one finds among the people, the local communication system (the town crier like Odu Chiogu of Ikpele village) still in common use. Furthermore, everyone knows his neighbour by name and family. Rural gossips through which information spreads like wide fire are still prevalent. It is therefore possible to know who is who and who has one problem or the other.

Obeagu community is situated along Nkalagu and Eha-Amufu at Egedegede junction, just after Amazu bridge. It is true that Egedegede is Obeagu land, the heart of the town is about four kilometres inland from the road. Obeagu shares land boundary with Eha-Amufu, Amankalu, Ugbahu, and Umuaro, all communities in Enugu state; Amazu and Nkalaha both in Ebonyi state. It is made up of six (6) villages, namely; Ikpele, Amumgba, Ameta, Obodoaba, Jioke and Egudele.

Based on the economic institution, most families in Obeagu community are predominantly farmers who practice and live by subsistence agriculture. Agricultural cultivation has deforested some of the land areas in Obeagu commuity. While some part of the areas still remain covered by virgin forest such as (Efu-Eme of Ameta-Obeagu, Efu-Odume of Ogbaebu in Ikpele village, Efu-Orokoro of Jioke/Agudele villages, Ebeodo of Ikpele and some part of Ameta and Obodoaba). However, the emergence of western culture has affected the pattern of agricultural production. Some people now get employed in industries and companies e.t.c. Thus, the impact of western cultures brought in and popularised by western education has gradually improved the life style of the people.

Finally, in terms of political institutions, Obeagu operates uncentralised political system especially that of gerontocracy. Coming to legal institution in Obeagu community, such as conflict resolution it operates the system of peer parliamentary strategy, elders council strategy, village council strategy, and trial by ordeal. Thus, Obeagu people have implicit faith in the omniscience of the supernatural. In time of doubt or confusion, the supernatural rather than human beings to force confession from the guilty or to judge the innocence or guilt of a suspect. Trial by ordeal is not an alternative to other conflict resolution strategies. It is rather a supplement, which whenever it is employed finally erases all doubts, absolves all blames settling the dispute conclusively.


Improper personality development and complete personality syndrome leading to pre-marital pregnancy among youths have been an age long problem to every society whether it is the under-developed societies of Nigeria, Ghana or in the developed societies of United States of America, Britain, Japan among others. People from various works of life have also spoken or given their own views about the root causes of pre-marital pregnancy among teenage girls and for the purpose of this study and some clarifications, some of these opinions and findings of the various research exercises are presented and discussed, hereunder.




Mankiw (2001) states that a status is marked off by the fact that the destructive belief about, and expectation for social actors are organised around it. He asserts that age, sex, birth and other biological and constitutional characteristics are very common basis of status. Notwithstanding, status, he goes on to point out is a phenomenon not of the intrinsic characteristics of men, but of social organisation. For while it is natural in one society to define a status in terms of biology, in others, this is completely irrelevant. Even where the same characteristics are used, it may be used differently by different society. What matters therefore Mankiw concludes is not what people believe him to be. To this end, sociologists typically take the status rather than the person as their basic unit while analysing a social system.

In view of this, Hetherington (2003), explained that unmarried mothers experience task overload. They have to carry out both their own roles, and males’ roles especially in communities where traditional sex stereotyped roles have to be maintained. The unmarried mother, he said, faces the problem of authority in disciplining her children. He stated that children view fathers as more powerful and threatening than mothers. Also commenting on the same issue, Burgess (1974), explained that single parent’s family is faced with many problems that are not experienced in two parents family. According to her, single parent’s family is regarded as disorganised, unstable or broken regardless of the condition of its existence.

In their own contribution, Bibikan and Coldman (1998), claimed that these girls (unmarried mothers) were deprived in their early childhood of consistent behaviour limitations which in their own opinion contributed to a weak and unprepared person unable to withstand the strong sexual deprives during adolescence. The girl or woman is looked down on because she has made herself a social misfit. Also commenting on the issue in the International Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences, Sills (1971), stated that it is a necessary condition for the family to carry out its function of position conferring. In this sense, the meaning of bastard is not that the child has no social status but rather that he lacks any position and status in his society.

In his own view, Malinowsky (1976) states that in all societies, a socially recognised father has been regarded as indispensable to the child. He insists that a legal marriage indeed gives a woman a socially recognised husband and her children, a socially recognised father.

Coser (1974) discovered that the principle of legitimacy does not operate under the condition where one child is regarded as an asset. In such a situation, he asserts that an unmarried girl needs not trouble herself about her social status. This is because the fact of having children only makes her the more desirable, making her to specifically acquire a husband who would not border whether the child is the product of his love or not.

Presser (1990), in his research explained that for most unmarried mothers from Black New York City, life is difficult. They experience an expansion of role responsibilities soon after they assume their new role as mother. Within few years, most of them go back to school become employed mothers and with limited resources. Most unmarried mothers are public assistance recipients and often rely upon other sources of support as well.



Many theorists and researchers on pre-marital pregnancies have variously posited that no one factor is completely responsible for the occurrence of out of wedlock pregnancies. As stated in the International Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences, illegitimacy in Western Europe and United States of America are limited primarily to social and psychological factors. These were found to be associated with selected groups of unmarried mothers found in domestic court files and home for way-ward-girls. This reinforces the popular emphasis upon broken homes, poverty and disorganised neighbourhood as causes of illegitimacy. Continuing, it states that in the 1940s and early 1950s, the history of unmarried mothers studied by psychotherapist appeared to support the fashionable emphasis on emotional disturbances.

According to Times International of March 11th, 1993, with the takeover of schools by government, discipline becomes rationed and no rules allow principals to expel any student on account of illicit relationships. This case is even worse in the tertiary institutions where students of opposite sex believe that sexual relationship is the major aspect of their campus life. Even in lecture halls and right before lecturers, students fondle themselves thereby showing disrespect for their lecturers.


According to Simon (2003), African illegitimate rate is by far the greatest due to non-acceptance of contraceptive and the general disapproval of abortion. Other important contributing factors include the late marring age, uneven sex ratio in towns, the instability of family life, the influence of European sex habits and the excessive prominence given to sex in the contemporary European culture.

In view of Adeforams, the President of National Council of Woman Societies (NCWS) expressed in Newswatch of January 26, 1989, teenage parenthoold is a reflection of the society and it is no longer uncommon to find old men picking up young girls in the streets for money”. “Such men”, she continues corrupt young girls and give them what their parents cannot give them, and when such girls get pregnant, the men are usually not around to help, or many even deny ever coming across the girls.

Baker (1986), observed that pre-marital pregnancy could be caused by dating of school children at colleges, various studies show that youngsters begin a kind of dating by the time they are still at school. This early dating could lead to pre-martial pregnancy since teenage girls can easily become emotionally involved with their boyfriends.

Ebigbo and Abaga (2004), found from their study on the sexual experience of street trading girls in Enugu – Nigeria that some of the girls sexually seduced in the city (Enugu) where universities are situated and who are mainly abused by students through seduction, usually consider such as kind of social elevation.

In reviewing further, the causes of pre-marital pregnancy, Ogenyi (2004) maintained that one attributes to this daily occurrence of premarital pregnancy is partly based on low socio-economic status of many families. Continuing, he states that children who are not taken good care of by their parents due to their poor status indulge themselves in pre-martial sex. This is because if you have a grown-up daughter and you cannot provide her with some of her necessary needs, she will be out of control and try anything possible to “meet” up with other girls in town because girls these days spend a lot of money on clothes and cosmetics. Many families are now faced with financial problems because of the prevailing depressed economy. He concludes that, many young girls who are not taken good care of by their parents get directly involved as a result of their search for alternative means of livelihood. They pick up married men who give them money.



pre-marital pregnancy is not without some adverse effects. This section seeks to unveil such adverse effects associated with this issue by different writers and researchers. In an article “Stress in Single Parent Families”, Burgess (1979: 10) explained that unmarried girls are faced with many problems that are not experienced in two-parent family. These problems take place in sexual aspect of parent-child relationship and in the economic structure of the family. She stated that the single parent family is regarded as disorganised, unstable or broken, regardless of the economic condition of its existence.

According to Yang (1996) in his article on Adolescent Sexuality and its problems”, most of the problems associated with teenage pregnancies are now thought to be related to the social circumstance of the mother, the poor attendance at antenatal clinics. Risk taking behaviour in this age group will also make them more prone to contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as Human Immuno-deficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS).

Faigel (1998:216) says that the rapid increase in the past decade has been accompanied by an equal rapid rise in the number of pregnant school age girls. He suggested that citizens should be taught serious and compulsory scientific education concerning the nature of sex, reproduction and contraception. While he argued that the non-utilisation of contraceptive techniques could not be excused on the ground of poverty or lack of knowledge, he insists that these devices should not only be well advertised, but in fact, freely distributed.

Costin (1981) also observed that unmarried girls are faced with countless psychological and social problems in their material role. She often has misunderstanding with the father of her child when she tries to obtain financial support, medical care, a place to live, and legal protection.

Gordon (1983), in his own study on mortality rate in the United States, observed that mortality is solely from unmarried mothers, the death he assumed to be as a result of inadequate care many are inexperienced, so after delivery they give out their children for adoption because they cannot give them adequate care to keep them healthy like providing them with good food and medicine.

According to Hoftman (1997), there is only one parental figure in single parent family to serve as the agent of socialisation. The remaining parent is likely to become more salient in the developing of the child there is no spouse to serve as a buffer between parent and child in this type of family.



Ventura et al (1988), in their article on illegitimacy proposed solutions for dealing with the problems of unmarried mothers. These include strengthening the family tie, raising moral standard and offering recreational facilities to adolescents, all of which are directed towards reducing the frequency of non-married sexual relationships.

Faigel (1998: 216), also proffered solutions for dealing with the problems of pre-marital pregnancies. These include citizens should be taught serious and compulsory scientific education concerning the nature of sex, reproduction and contraception. While he argued that the non-utilisation of contraceptive techniques could not be excused on the ground of poverty or lack of knowledge, he insists that these devices should not only be well advertised, but in fact, freely distributed.

Aguene (1999) suggested that children should be brought close to God because the concept of religion restricts one from doing evil since one realises that God will reward everyone according to his deeds. Religion controls stress and gives consolation to worries in life. Religion teaches practices of mercy and religious norms and values guide people’s behaviour. Some of the moral tenets are explained as having a supernatural origin. Religion therefore adds something to morality and strengthens it by connecting with the world lying beyond the senses. Those who really respect God will not indulge in pre-marital sex.

Writing further, he canvassed that people should minimise the number of children they want to have so that they can take good care of them. When daughters are provided with the basic necessities, it will minimise the “rush” to shameless old men (sugar daddies). He maintained that, parents and guardians should be held responsible for this moral weakness of their children. He continues by saying that there should be tolerance between husbands and wives to avoid divorce. This is because broken homes are the major causes of pre-marital pregnancies.

In conclusion the literature reviewed for this study has shown that this topic has been explored and extensively written on by so many researchers, many of whom have taken time to look into the causes and effects of illegitimate motherhood in society. Many of whom have also proffered solutions on the topic. This particular study largely follows this trend, but with particular focus on the situation in Obeagu Community in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Nigeria.

Causes Of Pre-Marital Pregnancy In Nigerian Society

To place an order for the Complete Project Material, pay N5,000 to

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Account Name – Chudi-Oji Chukwuka
Account No – 0044157183

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  1. Ebe Malachy Onyemaechi says:

    Indeed the project researcher has to be congratulated to a considerable length. He traveled miles in touching the geographical archive of “Obeagu Community” in ishielu LGA Ebonyi State. On that note, I must sincerely say you are great.

  2. Ozurumba Donald Chimezie says:

    I would like to have a complete project work on”the social cultural and moral implications of premarital sex” for a religion department.


    I must appreciate this project work. The research really did a great work. The research had time to go xtra mile in knowing all the great forest in my village. This work is a product of true investigation. I am most grateful to the researcher.

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