Reproductive coercive control is where a woman’s decisions about contraception and pregnancy are interfered with. The concept was first described in 2010. We wanted to update the evidence to 2017 and widen the range of control activities to include family pressure and criminal behaviour, such as sex trafficking. We found that up to one in four women at sexual health clinics report coercion over their reproductive lives.
For our narrative review, we searched relevant databases of medical and social sciences research, looking at women’s experiences of interference with their reproductive autonomy. We included only heterosexual relationships where women were controlled and excluded government control of women by laws and regulations. We wanted to concentrate on interpersonal aspects of the subject.
Most of the relevant studies were from the US, with a few from Asia and Africa. There was a notable lack of studies from Europe.
How men control women’s reproductive lives
Women being coerced are often put under pressure to get pregnant. Men sometimes use emotional blackmail, saying things like: “You would have my baby if you loved me”. But the behaviour can be more extreme, such as threatening to starve their partner, threatening to take her children away from her or even harming her. It can also include rape.