By Marie Stopes South Africa
Most often, women are victims of reproductive coercion and abuse. With the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, it is important to highlight forms of abuse that is often overlooked because they do not always present as violent. So many struggles with Reproductive Coercion and Abuse without realising it, however there some indicators that can help identify reproductive coercion and/or abuse.
What is Reproductive Coercion?
Reproductive Coercion is a form of abuse where someone else, like a partner, takes control over your reproductive choices. This type of abuse can take different forms, including contraceptive sabotage, sexually coercive behaviours, and pregnancy pressure. Like other forms abuse, it is used to exercise control over another person.
What are the forms of reproductive Coercion?
Reproductive Coercion and Abuse can include all abusive and coercive actions that concern sexual and reproductive health such as:
1. CONTRACEPTIVE SABOTAGE:
- Tearing off a sexual partner’s contraceptive patch.
- Destroying, hiding, tampering with, or withholding a sexual partner’s birth control pills.
- Deliberately rupturing a condom.
- Removing a condom during sexual intercourse, without your partners knowledge.
2. SEXUALLY COERCIVE BEHAVIOURS:
- Forcing a partner to not use birth control.
- Intentionally exposing a sexual partner to an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection).
- Threatening to leave a partner in order to get them to have sex.
- Pressurising or forcing a partner to have sex when they do not want to.
3. PREGNANCY PRESSURE:
- Forcing a partner to keep a pregnancy, even if they want to have an abortion.
- Deliberately getting pregnant, in order to keep a partner in the relationship.
- Forcing a pregnant partner to have an abortion when they would rather keep the pregnancy.
These are just some of the forms of Reproductive Coercion and Abuse. Many people struggling with this type of abuse may not even know it, but there are ways to protect yourself if you have concerns.
- If you can, buy your own birth control pills, or choose a method that cannot easily be tampered with, such the contraceptive implant
- Choose an abortion provider you can trust if you choose to have an abortion. Marie Stopes does not allow anyone but the client to attend an abortion consultation, and you can thus be assured that an abusive partner will have no knowledge about an abortion procedure.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with Reproductive Coercion and Abuse, reach out to People Opposed to Woman Abuse (Powa), Tears Foundation,