227591 Perceived nexus between bride-wealth, family curse and spontaneous abortion among Southern Sudanese women: A qualitative study

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 3:30 PM - 3:50 PM

Monica Onyango, RN, MS, MPH, PhD , International Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
South Sudan is recovering from a 21 year civil war and has some of the worst health indicators. For example, maternal mortality ratio is estimated at 2,054/100,000 live births, the highest in the world. Abortion complications are the leading cause of admissions at gynecology units. This qualitative study explored the experiences of women with abortion complications in the post war South Sudan. In-depth interviews were conducted with 26 women after treatment for abortion complications at a county hospital. In South Sudan, payment of bride-wealth (dowry) by the husband to the woman's relatives during marriage is critical and a symbolic binding commitment between families and clans. Failure by the husband to pay the dowry is believed to result in a family curse. A Southern Sudanese female is raised to believe that becoming the husband's property through marriage and delivering his children grants her respect in society. The majority of women in this study, whose husbands had not completed paying the bride-wealth, believed that family curse was a cause of the abortion. They believed that they will continue to experience spontaneous abortions with subsequent pregnancies until the dowry payment was resolved. In conclusion, cultural beliefs and the status of women in society can hinder access to information on abortion prevention, treatment and other reproductive health care. Social justice for Southern Sudanese women can be realized by listening to their perspectives and providing culturally relevant and gender sensitive reproductive health interventions.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
Describe the important role of bride- wealth among the Southern Sudanese societies; Analyze the connection between bride-wealth and family curse as perceived causes of spontaneous abortion; Discuss the implications of findings to reproductive health program interventions and post abortion care

Keywords: Abortion, Culture

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified because I am a registered nurse midwife and an independent researcher on this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3339.0: Abortion: contextual factors