Decision making and reproductive issues : A case study of expectant married mothers at Chainama ante-natal clinic in Lusaka
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The aspect of who makes decisions on reproductive issues in marriages has been overlooked by the many organisations that are advocating for the promotion of reproductive rights and gender equality as a whole. The effects of male decision making on reproductive issues have adverse consequences on women and the whole of humankind.The overall objective of this study was to give an insight on decision making and reproductive issues as they exist in marriages of those who attended antenatal at Chainama clinic in Lusaka, highlighting the general pattern of decision making on reproductive issues and the reasons for the types of decision making. The study also sought to examine the effects of male decision making on the wives.The study was undertaken between June and August 2005. Data was collected using both qualitative and quantitative methods and involved the structured open and closed interview for 39 respondents and 2 Focus Group Discussions for 14 respondents.The study revealed that husbands have a greater decision making power than their wives.The study further revealed that shared decision making between wives and husbands is very low.The study has also revealed that wives perceived that there are seven determinants for the decision making patterns that exist between wives and husbands and these are: cultural norms, religious promulgations and teachings, negotiating skills, marriage counsellors, the 'go- between', families and husbands' socio-economic positions.The study has also demonstrated that the wives' socio-economic status contributed negligibly to decision making behaviour regarding reproductive issues especially when to have sex and on the number of children. This study revealed the effects of unshared decision making on wives and these are gender based violence which can either be psychological, physical or emotional. It can also lead to wives' ill health caused by taking contraceptives such as pills, threat of divorce, marital rape and the contraction of HIV/AIDS. In conclusion, shared decision making on reproductive issues especially is an aspect that needs to be addressed with the urgency it deserves. Reproductive issues affect a woman directly and as such it is only fair that wives' concerns are adequately addressed.