sexual coercion

Building awareness of sexual and reproductive coercion

According to a report to be released in the February 2013 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, there is a significant problem in the United States of “sexual and reproductive coercion” ; that is, men acting in a coercive manner against women, and it is likely that the same issue is also occurring in Brazil.

This coercive behavior “includes explicit attempts to impregnate a partner against her will, control outcomes of a pregnancy, coerce a partner to have unprotected sex, and interfere with contraceptive methods.”  According to a 2010 survey from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (USA), close to 5% of women reported having an intimate partner who tried to stop them from using birth control or become pregnant against their will.

Interestingly, in the same survey, nearly 9% of men reported being pressured by a female partner to become pregnant against the man’s wishes, but the current report issued by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists primarily addresses the issue of women coerced by male partners to become pregnant.

The Congress notes that examples of the coercive behavior by men include “hiding, withholding, or destroying a partner’s oral contraceptives; breaking or poking holes in a condom on purpose or removing a condom during sex in an attempt to promote pregnancy; not withdrawing when that was the agreed upon method of contraception; and removing vaginal rings, contraceptive patches, or intrauterine devices (IUDs).”

The Congress also notes a strong association between this type of coercion and intimate partner violence or sexual abuse. A 2010 study done of 71 women who were victims of sexual abuse or violence showed that 53 of them reported that their male partner was also trying to control their reproductive choices.

The recommendations of the Congress are that obstetricians and gynecologists routinely screen both adolescent and adult women for sexual coercion as well as sexual abuse or violence, and even post signs in their waiting room stating that women should be seen by the doctor without the partner being present, at least for part of the visit, so the women can be confidently, privately screened for the problem.

Women in this situation might be offered long-term contraception such as contraceptive implants or IUDs, and if IUDs are used, the strings on the device can be cut short so they are invisible to the man, and cannot be pulled out against the woman’s will. Other contraceptive options are also available.

Finally, it is interesting, and indeed sad, that often the man’s issue is not one of actually wanting a child, but wanting to control his partner. These men may also force sex on the partner against her will, or force sex without a condom.

Sexual coercion, while perhaps an unpleasant issue to consider, is apparently not so uncommon, so all of us need to be aware of this issue: doctors, women of childbearing age, and friends and family of these women, and do what we can to stop sexual and reproductive coercion.

Should you wish to find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, use our main website:

Read also in ProcuraMed:

*The most effective “emergency contraceptive” is the IUD 

*The “morning-after pill” and how it works


Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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