Monday, February 1, 2010

An Untold Story:Reproduction Coercion

A new study conducted by the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) has shed light on a little recognized form of abuse called reproductive coercion. With this form of abuse, men use birth control sabotage (for example, hiding birth control pills, damaging condoms, etc) in an effort to impregnate their partners without consent. The findings have concluded that reproductive coercion is frequently associated with physical and sexual abuse of intimate partners. Shockingly, women who face intimate partner violence double their risk of unintended pregnancy.

The FVPF has created a campaign, Know More, Say More, to educate women and youth on sexual violence and its ramifications. The aim of the campaign is to open a dialogue and expand awareness on this issue. The website contains testimonials of victims/survivors of reproductive coercion, who convey a disturbing pattern of control where the men believe that having a child will prevent their partners from leaving. Sadly, this tactic is often effective and is exacerbated by the fact that women in abusive relationships often experience an increase of violence when they become pregnant. Many women, particularly those in rural areas, already face obstacles, like lack of insurance, transportation, child care, that affect their ability to obtain affordable birth control. These obstacles can be insurmountable for women experiencing intimate partner violence.

Reproductive coercion is a real and serious problem and it is crucial that it is acknowledged when discussing the prevalence of sexual and physical abuse towards women. Recognizing reproductive coercion as form of abuse is the first step in eradicating the practice. Do your part to raise awareness by learning more about reproductive coercion and sharing the information with others.

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