Reproductive coercion is a blind spot in society, even though there are a lot of cases, also within the closed-up communities. Girls in such environments grow up with the idea that they need to have a lot of children, to give back to their community and make sure that their (Godly) position, thus ’the only true path’, is strengthened and maintained. Motherhood is the ultimate purpose of their existence. Birth control is forbidden, as well as refusing to participate in intimacy. In other words, reproductive coercion is spiritual coercion as well.
Of course, reproductive coercion happens outside closed-up communities as well, for instance in relationships with narcissistic traits. For example, a BBC poll suggests that 50% of the women under 45 in England have experienced a form of reproductive coercion. It is a lesser-known type of abuse. It’s when someone uses pregnancy, contraception and sex to control a person. Examples vary, but can include forcing someone to have an abortion they don’t want, damaging or hiding contraceptives and pressurizing someone not to use condoms. To find out how common it is, the BBC commissioned a survey of 1000 women in the UK, aged 18-44.
- One in ten women surveyed said that they’d experienced someone hiding, withholding or even damaging their contraception, for instance poking holes in a condom on purpose.
- One in ten also said that they’d experienced someone removing a condom during sex without consent – an act that’s often called ‘stealthing’ – and is classed as rape under UK law. It’s also a form of reproductive coercion. Typically, women in such a situation will brush it off as no big deal, when it actually is.
- The law was changed in 2015 to make coercive control a criminal offense in the UK. More countries should do the same.
- In general, this form of coercion is not well recognized in society, also not by the professionals who should know better, should investigate each situation and should keep track of the data and patterns in order to improve and evolve.
In closed-up communities, women oftentimes are kept continuously pregnant by their partners. This means that her lives belong to her husbands, family, communities and to God. In such closed-up communities, every aspect of a life is controlled by the ancient and current laws of the leaders, including work life, intimacy and sexuality to name just a few.