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Whose bodies are they? Conceptualising reproductive violence against adolescents in Ethiopia, Malawi and Zambia

Chiweshe, Malvern, Fetters, Tamara and Coast, Ernestina ORCID: 0000-0002-8703-307X (2021) Whose bodies are they? Conceptualising reproductive violence against adolescents in Ethiopia, Malawi and Zambia. Agenda, 35 (3). 12 - 23. ISSN 1013-0950

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Identification Number: 10.1080/10130950.2021.1964220


We use a violence lens to visibilize how adolescents who sought abortion-related care in three African countries are coerced, controlled and punished with regards to their sexual and reproductive health. We suggest the use of the concept of reproductive violence to characterize these diverse experiences. Our data comes from a comparative study on adolescent contraceptive and abortion seeking behaviours in Ethiopia, Malawi and Zambia. We conducted 313 interviews that generated both quantitative and qualitative evidence in each country (2018 - 2019). Our analysis shows how adolescent bodies are subject to reproductive violence by parents, partners and healthcare workers, situated within a broader framework of structural violence. Reproductive violence manifests in multiple ways, often within a single abortion trajectory, including coercion to accept post-abortion contraception after receiving facility-based abortion services; having few to no choices of contraceptive methods prior to or after pregnancy; parents and relatives coercing adolescents to not/use abortion or contraception; lack of decision-making regarding sexuality or sexual identity; sex and contraceptive use in relationships rooted in gendered and power dynamics with partners; and - ultimately – adolescents’ lack of control over their own bodies. We show how these experiences make adolescents vulnerable to the experience and perpetuation of reproductive violence.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2021 08:45
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 03:25

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