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Women’s Refuge Examines Reproductive Coercion in New Zealand

15 October 2018

Women’s Refuge Examines Reproductive Coercion in New Zealand

Women’s Refuge has today released a study that examines reproductive coercion. While some research on reproductive coercion has been undertaken in other countries, like the United States, to date there has not been a comprehensive study of reproductive coercion in New Zealand – making this study a first of its kind.

Reproductive coercion is a form of Intimate Partner Violence (IVP) that involves controlling access and tampering with contraceptives, pregnancy coercion, attempting to cause miscarriage, and intentional exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

This research targeted those who had experienced reproductive coercion by a partner and sought participants via social media and recruitment posters posted in sexual and reproductive health clinics across New Zealand. 161 individuals came forward to participate in the research. Over 80 % of survey respondents had experienced their partner controlling their access to contraceptives. Just under 60 % had experienced partners tampering with existing contraceptives. Around 60 % had experienced pregnancy coercion. Just over 30% of respondents had experienced a partner trying to prevent access to an abortion procedure. Almost half of the respondents had been intentionally exposed to an STI by their partners.

The study also looked at partner behaviours during different points of pregnancy and around the termination of a pregnancy. In addition it addressed the monitoring of sexuality as a form of control, and as a way to facilitate reproductive coercion.

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Dr Ang Jury, Chief Executive of Women’s Refuge says:

“It was important to conduct this piece of research in order to gain insight into how people’s, particularly women’s, reproductive autonomy can be compromised by their partners.”

“One of the themes of this research was that when these individuals did reach out for profession help, it often resulted with the victim not receiving the care they required or they themselves questioning whether it was abuse”, says Dr Jury.

“Domestic Violence has become an abstract concept in many ways. Therefore it is vital that we do not lose sight of the lived realities of those experiencing violence. This is essential if we are to create positive change. Going forward from this study, we not only hope to spread awareness that reproductive coercion is a form of abuse but to become more astute at recognising the signs and offering individuals the assistance they require.”

Women’s Refuge would also like to acknowledge the support and involvement of Family Planning who were integral in making this research possible.


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