Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reproductive coercion - another form of violence against women

"I have to get a baby in there", he kept saying and I thought, "Is that all I am to him.. a baby carrier?"

And the words immediately groped my attention. I was in the waiting room of the hospital, idling away my time, casually flipping through the pages of a magazine. I looked around, mentally counting those in the room and concluding that I had ample time to skim through those few pages, before the nurse calls me. And what I read gave me goosebumps, showing me yet another face of the world that we live in. I had to know more and tried to dig up the article on the internet as soon as i could. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the magazine or else I would have given a link to it. My attempt here is not to reproduce that piece but to make ourselves aware of such happenings around us.

The article had started with the story of a couple who met in a med school, fell in love, and eventually got married. The guy started talking about babies soon after their honeymoon. He got obsessed with the idea so much that he didn't give her emotional and physical readiness a single thought, after a major back surgery he had to go through. She thought it as her duty then, as he had been with her throughout the surgery and the therapies. When after a while he suggested that they should consider IVF, she thought it rather sweet of him talking about the medical procedures and agreed. But her back was still weak and she miscarried. And that's when it all grew worse, with him pressurizing her to go for another IVF round as soon as the wait time was over. The second time, she miscarried, he went hysterical. She could put him off for a while only by saying tht the doctor thinks she need to put on weight, when the truth was that she was not ready for it yet. Infact, she was not sure that she wanted a baby at all now, more importantly his baby. He, on the other hand, stocked up he refrigerator with all the fattening stuff and kept saying, " I have to get a baby in there". He even threatened her tht she would be replaced by a maid and when all this turned into a physical abuse, tht she ran away to a women's shelter, where she learnt that she was not alone. And that what she was going through is termed as 'Reproductive Coercion'.

Please note that I might have missed a few facts and/or twists in the story here and her, but I do hope you get the picture. I had to know more and the more I learned, I realized that this is Not a new phenomenon and has been taken up by media, in print and on TV as well.

So, what is Reproductive Coercion?

Reproductive coercion is the sexual violence and in most cases, leads to physical violence. It also includes verbal/emotional pressure not to use birth control or to become pregnant. Many a times, leads to use of force not to take birth control or have unprotected sex.

The magazine had incidents on boyfriends/partners yanking the nuvarings off!

What leads to Reproductive coercion?

It is a way in which men want to control the female body to show their power. The article had quoted some more stories in which the men made their spouse pregnant every couple of years or when the youngest child started kindergarten, so that she would be bound to home and never attain financial independence. In some cases, it's a behavioral sabotage, where men just want to assert their dominance. Please go through the links in this post. They are very insightful into the topic.

Who does it happen to?

Relative coercion happens to teens and adults, rich and poor, married women, women in long or short term or in-between relationships, hookers or hook-ups.

What can we do to prevent it?

Empower. Educate. Be careful. Be on ALERT.
Know the warning signs and take action.

No woman should get STI, some of them rendering her infertile, some like HIV fatal to her life!
Whether, it is getting pregnant or to end pregnancy -No woman should be forcibly made to go through it, if she is not ready!


TheBluntBlogger said...

Swati, I know friends who used to say I will make babies with in no time....and some did too. Am lucky for my husband is understanding :-)

This is a great writeup....a serious issue that need to be discussed.

confused soul said...

GOsh, this must be s painful...emotionally and physically on the women.. It really is unfair.. I hope the men understand the trauma that women face.. :/

Roona said...

Whew! Wasn't really familiar with this kind of an's heartbreaking that some women have to go through this kind of suffering too...good writing Swati.

Ritu Yadav said...

Swati, these things are much gross if you look around in India...especially villages where reporoductive responsibility is honorably levied upon females ...and lust for having a boy representative to one's lineage...and all added up as a part of our heavy weight "culture" and "riti riwaz". I am hearing this "reproductive coercion" term for the first time but concept is not new here...

Anonymous said...

Often this kind of abuse is camouflaged as 'family values' where the woman is expected to be a mother and take care of her kids. No one tries to explore deeper and realize that the reasons are different and often murky.

Thanks for this great post!

Chiniiz n Sugarz Mom.. Swati said...

@TBB.. As long as the decision is mutual.. I dont see why..
Tx fr visiting my blog :)

@CS.. Hw can u expect the assaulter to understan the trauma of he victim? Even if they do, they derive pleasure out of it.

@Roona.. Me neither until i chanced upon that mag

@Ritu.. Sigh.. I know this issue is not new and is not limited to any country/race/religion/caste/class either :(

@vawa.. Tx fr cross linking

angada said...

This done to anyone is Violence in no uncertain words

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