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“I will give you children”

By Nina Steele 

Childless black couple Unfortunately, this comment is often thrown at women who are childless not by choice and who have the courage to come forward and share their story. It’s a highly insensitive comment of course, often made by ignorant men, with no understanding of issues related to infertility. Back in June when I started reaching out to childless people in Africa, particularly women, I got many of these comments thrown at me. A lot of men were offering to get me pregnant in no time. Sadly, as an African by birth, I do understand that because of the sheer pressure many married women are under to conceive, some have felt as though they have no choice but to ‘go elsewhere’ to get pregnant.

I still remember a comment made by a woman, in reply to a story from my agony aunt column. The story was about another African woman who stood by her husband when they were unable to conceive due to infertility issues on his side. After the man was successfully treated, they were still unable to conceive. To her utter disbelief, the husband she had lovingly stood by, decided that as she was in her 40s, her chances of becoming pregnant were slim. And so he kicked her out and was planning on marrying a younger woman. In response to that story, the African woman cited above, commented that she would do anything to have a child, including having an affair, because the alternative did not bear thinking about. Of course the alternative she was referring to, is the extreme pressure women are under when they are unable to conceive.

Unfortunately, I kept hearing many stories of women being abandoned by their husbands after a few years, whenever a couple was unable to conceive. I can’t even imagine the amount of pain these women go through. The humiliation, the shame, the fear; how desperately sad.

Which brings me back to those men who offer to get women pregnant. Unfortunately, they are a reflection of their culture. As a young girl growing up in the Ivory Coast, I remember often hearing stories of men who had made a name for themselves because of how easily they got women pregnant. Instead of people feeling outraged at their loose morals, they were admired for their virility. They were even given a name ‘l’enceinteur’, which roughly translates in English as ‘the one who gets women pregnant’. That says it all, really.

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