Women, infertility and the price for saying I do(Part1)
By Kingsley Obom-Egbulem
The burden of infertility, especially in Africa is borne by women. This is not arguable. Aside being the one to carry the pregnancy(whenever it occurs) ,she is also the evidence of infertility in the relationship. Even in churches what you always hear is sisters trusting God for the fruit of the womb-bit it takes someone to out the fruit there. What about brothers also trusting God for a seed for the womb?
So, whenever a woman’s tummy is not protruding, she is infertile irrespective of the fact that she needs someone(yes a man) to get her pregnant. And it doesn’t matter if that man in question has impediments that appears to have limited his reproductive capacity.
Now, when the man is apparently the source of infertility in a relationship, the African society tends to cover it up and protect him from the ridicule that most women suffer even when it has not been medically proven that they have problems conceiving.
The sad side of the story is when the woman is subjected to all forms of physical and emotional abuses- a problem she is not even responsible for.
In my interactions with organizations dealing with issues of domestic and gender-based-violence not a few of them confirmed that infertility among couples have contributed to cases of battery and physical abuse in some homes. Eventually leading to eventual divorce.
I was told the story of a woman whose husband was diagnosed with aspermic (a medical condition in which no spermatozoa are present in the seminal fluid. For years this woman suffered dehumanization from her in-laws because she couldn’t conceive. Of course she couldn’t have been able to conceive given the problem with her husband. She wasn’t too sure whether her husband knew he had this problem before they got married but what was clear was that the man was always brandishing his clean bill of health whenever she demands that they both see her doctor.
She was always doing one medical tests after the other just to be sure she wasn’t the problem. During some of her appointments her doctor will tell her “your eggs are ok and would be released between now and mid-day tomorrow; please make sure you have sex with your husband during this period”.
Unfortunately for her, this is the period the man chooses to “travel” for one business engagement or the other just to conceal his problem.
After several of such suspicious strips which often coincides with her ovulation period, the woman insisted on either traveling with him or stopping him from traveling. That was when the man restored to violence and physical abuses.
Sometimes he will beat her to pulp, lock her up in the house for days and “travel”.
But there was this trend that made her suspect that either there was something fundamentally wrong with her husband or that she was in for a nightmarish relationship. She noticed that whenever her husband goes for these phony trips, his younger brother will visit the house.
He comes in close to midnight; feigning ignorance of his brothers purported trip. Since it is too late to go back home, he would opt to pass the night and throughout the night he would make passes at her, hoping that it will culminate in sex.
Her husband’s younger brother is apparently aware her husband is suffering from aspermia and his regularly visits especially when she’s ovulating and when the brother is “away” is an orchestrated move to get her pregnant and save the husband the shame of being seen as sterile or not being man enough.
Being her ovulation period, the thinking is that her chances of accepting her brother in-laws overtures will be higher and her chances of getting pregnant will be higher too. Ultimately ,the baby that would come out of this arrangement may have some resemblance with her husband since he looks so much like his younger brother.
The plan never worked. The woman didn’t fall for it. At a point the brother in-law almost raped her. That was when she reported to her husband what has been happening each time he “traveled”.
The husband’s remark was a frightening wake up call albeit a critical flash point .
“So what, if my brother decides to sleep with you? What is the problem with that? Don’t you know that what belongs to me belongs to my brother too and when Im not around it is his duty based on tradition to “take care” of you?”.
That was all she needed to decide whether or not to remain in the marriage. And the fact that the beaten from her husband had assumed a rather brutal and senseless dimension at this stage was also a deciding factor. For him, not accepting to sleep with his brother frustrated his game plan and continues to expose him to ridicule. So the beating was an expression of his frustration and a way of making her pay for her stupidity.
Eventually, she escaped from the house-back to her family house and never went back till date.
Why should society continue to torment a woman for a problem she is not responsible for? Even if she responsible for the problem there are some that she couldn’t have done anything about especially if it is congenital. Why should couples live in hatred and violence or be torn apart due to cases of infertility that can be medically resolved?
The answer to any of these posers is definitely anybody’s guess.