‘Barefoot and pregnant’ - Some Jamaican men causing their women to hide their use of birth control
The desire of some Jamaican men to father as many children as possible while keeping their children's mother 'barefoot and pregnant', and fully dependent on them, is forcing some women to use their contraceptives in secret.
The issue was put on the front burner recently by executive director of the National Family Planning Board (NFPB), Dr Denise Chevannes, who said anecdotal evidence suggests that this happens due to men wanting control over their partners.
"Some women have to conceal the fact that they are on a contraceptive method from their male partner, and this, I believe, is linked to some of the patriarchal norms where a man feels that once he impregnates a woman, he has control over the woman.
"But these women may not want to get pregnant; they may recognise that having another child that they have not planned for is going to impede their social and economic progress, so these women may want to delay having a child," said Chevannes.
"We know this from anecdotal evidence. I think we would need to do much more in-depth qualitative research to really explore the extent to which these attitudes still exist and how pervasive they are," added Chevannes.
She said that she has also heard of cases where men intentionally burst the condom during sexual intercourse in order to impregnate women.
Chevannes noted that despite the high cost associated with raising a child in today's society, having multiple children is still desired by some individuals.
"Fertility is highly valued for both men and women in Jamaica, and for different reasons."
She noted that while some women and even adolescent girls have children to prove that they are not 'mules', men sometimes have multiple children to prove their masculinity.
The NFPB is the agency responsible for family and population planning as well as HIV prevention in Jamaica.