The Work of a Woman is to give Birth to Children: Cultural Constructions of Infertility in Nigeria

Ritgak A. Dimka, Simon L. Dein

Abstract

Infertility is a condition loaded with meaning spanning across biomedical, psychological, social, economic, cultural and religious spheres. Given its disruptive power over women’s lives, it provides a unique lens through which issues of kinship, gender, sexuality, cosmology and religion can be examined. The paper presents the results of an ethnographic study of infertility in Central Nigeria. Explanatory models of infertility were variegated, encompassing biomedical, folk and religious elements. Like other ethnographic studies of help seeking for infertility in Nigeria, among this group resort was made to biomedical treatments, traditional healers and religious healing with no one system being hegemonic. The findings of this study accord with studies of infertility in other cultural groups indicating the disruptive influence of missing motherhood (Afr J Reprod Health 2013; 17[2]: 102-117.

Résumé

La stérilité est une condition chargée de sens enjambant les biomédicaux, psychologiques, social, économique, culturel et religieux. Compte tenu de son pouvoir perturbateur sur la vie des femmes, il offre une perspective unique par laquelle les questions de la parenté, du sexe, de la sexualité, de la cosmologie et de la religion peuvent être examinées. L’article présente les résultats d'une étude ethnographique de l'infertilité dans le centre du Nigeria. Les modèles explicatifs de la stérilité ont varié, englobant les éléments  biomédicaux,  folkloriques et  religieux.  Tout comme d'autres études ethnographiques de recherche d'aide pour la stérilité au Nigeria, au sein de ce groupe  on a eu recours aux traitements biomédicaux, aux guérisons traditionnels et religieux, aucun système n’étant  hégémonique. Les résultats de cette étude avec  s’accordent  avec des études sur la stérilité chez les autres groupes culturels indiquant l'influence perturbatrice du manque de maternité. (Afr J Reprod Health 2013; 17[2]: 

Full Text:

PDF

References

Inhorn, M C and F Van Balen, Interpreting Infertility: A View from the Social Sciences. In Infertility, Around the Globe from New Thinking on Childlessness, Gender and Reproductive Technologies. University of California Press, 2002

Inhorn, M C. Quest for Conception: Gender, Infertility and Egyptian Medical Traditions. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.1994

Hemmings, J M. Infertility and Women’s Life Courses in Northern Malawi. PhD Thesis. Unpublished 2007

Rashid, S F. Kal Dristi, Stolen Babies and ‘Blocked Uteruses’: Poverty and Infertility Anxieties Among Married Women Living in a Slum in Dhaka,

Bangladesh Anthropology & Medicine 2007, 14:2:

-166

Papreen N, Sharma A, Sabin K, Begum L, Ahsan SK, and AH Baqui Living with infertility: experiences among urban slum populations in Bangladesh. Reproductive health matters 2000, 8(15): 33-44.

Okonofua, FE. Studies on the epidemiology of infertility in Nigeria with specific reference to genital tract infections and sexual and reproductive risk factors. Karolinska Institute, Department of Public Health

Sciences, Division of International Health, IHCAR Available online at HYPERLINK "javascript:open_ window_resource_name(%22http://metalib-

a.lib.ucl.ac.uk:8331/V/J2V5C7B1C3MVLS5I3DHAV

CN9S55N8SCLC2KTCJ3MCANKP3HXD-

?func=full-externalexec&doc_number=002645045&line_number=0007& service_type=TAG%22);"http://diss.kib.ki.se/2005/91

-7140-354-X/thesis.pdf 2005

Dyer, S J. The Value of Children in African Countries - Insights from Studies on Infertility. Journal of

Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynaecology 2007, 28:2, 69–77

Boerma JT and Z Mgalla In: J.T. Boerma and Z. Mgalla, Editors, Women and infertility in Africa: A multidisciplinary perspective, Royal Tropical Institute Press, Amsterdam, 2001

Okonofua, F, D Harris, A Odebiyi, T Kaned and R. Snow. The Social Meaning of Infertility in Southwest Nigeria. Health Transition Review 1997, 7: 205-220

Gerrits, T., Boonmongkon, P., Feresu, S., and D. Halperin. Involuntary infertility and childlessness in resource-poor countries. Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis, 1999

Helman, CG. Culture, Health and Illness. Fifth Edition Hodder Arnold. London, 2007

Cornwall A Taking Chances, Making Choices: The Tactical Dimensions of "Reproductive Strategies" in

Southwestern Nigeria Medical Anthropology 2007,

: 229-254

Jiggins, J Changing the Boundaries: Women-Centered Perspectives on Population and the Environment. Washington D.C.: Island Press, 1994

Caldwell, J C. and P Caldwell Cultural Forces Tending to Sustain High Fertility. In Population Growth and Reproduction in Sub-Saharan Africa. G.T.F. Acsadi,

G. Johnson-Acsadi, and R.A. Bulatao, eds. Pp. 199-

Washington D.C.: The World Bank, 1990

Hollos M, U Larsen, O Obono and B. Whitehouse

HYPERLINK

"http://www.sciencedirect.com.libproxy.ucl.ac.uk/scie nce/article/pii/S0277953609001555?_alid=180507589 9&_rdoc=2&_fmt=high&_origin=search&_docanchor =&_ct=5&_zone=rslt_list_item&md5=7ae5afc56d238 ad279722a851436a2c9

d238ad279722a851436a2c9> "The problem of infertility in high fertility populations: Meanings, consequences and coping mechanisms in two Nigerian communities HYPERLINK "http://econpapers.repec. org/article/eeesocmed/"Social Science & Medicine, 2009, 68(11): 2061-2068

Kleinman, A. The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing and the Human condition. New York: Basic Books 1988

Oyewumi, O Family Bonds/Conceptual Binds: African Notes on Feminist Epistemologies Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 25 (4). Summer 2000.

Danfulani, U D.H. Understanding Nyam. Rödiger Köppe Verlag.Köln, 2003

Pearce T O. She Will Not be Listened to in Public: Perceptions among the Yoruba of Infertility and Childlessness. Reproductive Health Matters 1999, 7.(13)69-79

Smith, D J.Contradictions in Nigeria’s Fertility Transition: The Burdens and Benefits of Having People, Population and Development Review 2004, 30(2): 221-238

Odusola, A F. Poverty and Fertility Dynamics in Nigeria: A Micro Evidence, Available online at HYPERLINK

"http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/conferences/2002UPaGiSSA/papers/Odusola-csae2002.pdf" http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/conferences/2002-

UPaGiSSA/papers/Odusola-csae2002.pdf Accessed 11 February 2008.

Amadiume, I Male Daughters, Female Husbands: Gender and Sex in an African Society. Zed Books,1987

Greil, A L. Infertile Bodies: Medicalization Metaphor, and Agency. Interpreting Infertility: A View from the Social Sciences. In Infertility Around the Globe: New Thinking on Childlessness, Gender and Reproductive Technologies. University of California Press, 2002

Imoagene, O 1990 Peoples of the Niger-Benue Confluence and Plateau Areas. Know Your Country Series Volume 5. New-Era Publishers Ibadan, Nigeria

Renne E Local and institutional interpretations of IUDs in southwestern Nigeria. Social Science & Medicine 1997, 44, 1141-8

Van Balen, F., & Inhorn, M. C. Introduction: Interpreting infertility—a view from the social sciences. InM. C. Inhorn, & F. Van Balen (Eds.), Infertility around the globe: New thinking on childlessness, gender, and reproductive technologies (pp. 3–32). Berkeley: University of California Press. 2001

Muller, JC Marriage and Kinship amongst the Rukuba. Paris La Haye: Mouton, 1976

Neiers, de P and O. Marie. The Peoples of the Plateau, Nigeria: Their Philosophy, Manners and Customs. Frankfurt am Main; Bern; Las Vegas. Lang 1979

Netting, R Hill Farmers of Nigeria: Cultural Ecology of the Kofyar of the Jos Plateau. Seattle London: University of Washington Press, 1968

Ezumah, N N. Gender Issues in the Prevention and Control of STIs and HIV/AIDS: Lessons learnt from

Awka and Agulu, Anambra State, Nigeria African Journal of Reproductive Health 2003, 7(2):89-99

Inhorn MC. Infertility and Patriarchy: The Cultural Politics of Gender and Family Life in Egypt. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996

Mohanty, C., Russo, A. and L Torres. (eds). Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1991

#Delaney, C. The Seed and the Soil: Gender and Cosmology in a Turkish Village. University of California Press 1991

Hellum, A. Women's Human Rights and Legal Pluralism in Africa: Mixed Norms and Identities in Infertility Management in Zimbabwe, Mond Books, 1999

Sundby, J. Infertility and Health Care in Countries with Less Resources: Case Studies from Sub-Saharan Africa. In M Inhorn and F Van Balen Infertility Around the Globe from New Thinking on Childlessness, Gender and Reproductive

Technologies. University of California Press 2002

Koster-Oyekan, W. Infertility Among Yoruba Women: Perceptions on Causes, Treatment and Consequences. African Journal of Reproductive Health 1999, 3(1): 13-26

Jolly M and K. Ram (eds) Borders of Being: Citizenship, Fertility, and Sexuality in. Asia and the Pacific, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 2001

Okonofua F, Harris D, Odebiyi A, Kane T and Rachel C. Snow R: The social meaning of infertility in Southwest Nigeria Health Transition Review 7, 1997, 205-220.

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.