Women and their reproductive rights: a case study of the Ikwerres in Nigeria

Princewill, Chitu Womehoma. Women and their reproductive rights: a case study of the Ikwerres in Nigeria. 2017, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Medicine.


Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_12999

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The issue of reproductive autonomy in developing countries has been a major global human right concern. The patriarchal system of governance and the cultural practices in most African countries and indeed Nigeria have been major hindrances to the exercise of women’s reproductive autonomy (Okemini & Adekola, 2012).
According to our study, the reproductive autonomy of married Ikwerre women of Rivers State, Nigeria is perceived to be diminished. A major reason for this is the culture of absolute respect to men and the patriarchal society in which the women find themselves. In the Ikwerre culture, women are expected to have absolute respect for men. Female subordination and gender discrimination are fallout from the patriarchal society which characterizes the Ikwerre ethnic group. An Ikwerre woman who chooses to exercise her reproductive autonomy without the consent of her husband or family head is viewed as a stubborn woman. An Ikwerre wife who dares to exercise her reproductive autonomy may face dire consequences from her husband; such as been beaten, divorced or ending up in a polygynous marriage. And this brings upon the woman negative consequences such as being stigmatized by society, because unmarried, separated, or divorced women are viewed by society as witches, cursed or lacking proper home training, as well as brings dishonor to their families (Baloyi, 2013; Llika, 2005; Isiugo-Abanihe, 1995). Since a typical Ikwerre woman does not want to end up offending her husband, his family and hers, she would tolerate anything to remain married, and this includes not exercising her reproductive autonomy.
Other factors that diminish married women’s reproductive autonomy are religion (the Christian religion to which the study participants belong to), poverty, which leads to over- dependence on the husband, and lack of education. A married woman who is poor will have no choice but to depend on her husband for her entire well-being. To ensure her daily
livelihood and that of her children, she will have to obey her husband’s commands even to her own detriment. An uneducated married woman is blind to information, because she is unable to interact and understand what it means to have reproductive autonomy. And even if she is told, she may not know how to go about the exercise of her reproductive autonomy in a patriarchal setting like Nigeria. There is a gap in knowledge as to the real reason married Ikwerre women have diminished reproductive autonomy. The aim of this thesis therefore was to understand what women understood by autonomy and reproductive rights. To examine the reason for married Ikwerre women’s diminished reproductive autonomy and to understand how education helps in the exercise of their reproductive autonomy.
This is the first time qualitative research has aimed to understand the reason for married Ikwerre women’s diminished reproductive autonomy. Given that the Ikwerres are well educated and live with educated foreigners who besiege the area due to the presence of crude oil which accounts for Nigeria’s wealth, one would expect that there would be equality amongst the genders in Ikwerres as regards autonomous decision making due to the rising development and urbanization in the region. But the Ikwerre women are perceived to have diminished reproductive autonomy. Therefore, it is imperative to understand what limits the exercise of their reproductive autonomy.
Advisors:Riecher-Rössler, Anita and Jegede, Ayodele Samuel
Faculties and Departments:03 Faculty of Medicine > Bereich Psychiatrie (Klinik) > Erwachsenenpsychiatrie UPK > Erwachsenenpsychiatrie (Riecher-Rössler)
03 Faculty of Medicine > Departement Klinische Forschung > Bereich Psychiatrie (Klinik) > Erwachsenenpsychiatrie UPK > Erwachsenenpsychiatrie (Riecher-Rössler)
UniBasel Contributors:Riecher-Rössler, Anita
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:12999
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:1 Online-Ressource (201 Seiten)
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edoc DOI:
Last Modified:17 Apr 2019 04:30
Deposited On:16 Apr 2019 11:45

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