Guruve Couples Turn To Withdrawal Method…As Contraceptives Crisis Deepens

IT’S a chilly evening in the sandy plains of Guruve and everyone is tucked in their homes waiting to have a hot meal and take an evening nap. Everyone is talking about the change of weather and how all of a sudden, September has turned out to be freezing  while some ambitious farmers are already contemplating tilling the land.

By Michael Gwarisa recently in Guruve

For married couples, evenings are like what Christmas is to a five year old. It is a well-known and scientifically proven fact that men get sexually aroused during chilly weather or in winter. Cold weather makes men amorous they say. However, with the ongoing contraceptives crisis in Zimbabwe, especially in rural areas where options are few, the thought of becoming intimate can be tedious.

I am now using withdrawal method,” said Taurai Chando from Chiripanyanga Village in Guruve.

“It has been like this for the past several weeks and it’s no longer safe for us. My wife is getting uncomfortable, she thinks somehow, I might impregnate her. The risk is high.”

Majority of villagers in Guruve get health services from Ruyamuro Clinic. However, according to a health official at the clinic who requested anonymity, a total of 500 women who came to the centre seeking services since beginning of the contraceptives crisis have been turned away empty handed.

According to the ministry of health and Child Care, Zimbabwe could be headed for one of its worst contraceptives shortages in 2020 owing to a myriad of factors chief among them being delays in the procurement and distribution process.

For villagers in Guruve however, they can’t wait any longer, the situation has gotten out of hand and could trigger a rise in sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Gender Based Violence (GBV), teenage pregnancies and illegal abortions.

Mrs Tsisti Moyo from Tengenenge Village in Guruve  said the contraceptives crisis has seen young women being duped of their monies by herbalists and traditional healers who claim to provide traditional contraception which includes swallowing Marijuana seeds or jumping over a certain shrub.

[pullquote]“It’s true the issue the contraceptives crisis is real. There are some who have money to purchase contraceptives pills and other methods from the pharmacy and they come and sale the pills at exorbitant prices. Women are now withholding sex from their husbands and it’s a threat to their marriages now especially the young couples.[/pullquote]

“Men are now getting sex from sex workers and who knows they might not be using protection. Herbalists and other elderly women are also capitalising on the crisis and are now introducing these young girls to ineffective contraception. Your hear them say if you swallow marijuana seeds or skip a certain shrub you won’t fall pregnant and the young women sadly believe that kind of stuff,” said Mrs Moyo.

For most women, withdrawal method has become the only reliable source of contraception as they try to save their marriages and possibly stop their men from fishing in forbidden wells outside marriage which could result in them contracting STS and HIV.

However,  the withdrawal method is not always effective and chances of falling pregnant are high. According to research, the Pull out or withdrawal method works about 78% of the time, which means that over a year of using this method, 22 out of 100 women would get pregnant.

In most cases, the sperm cell would have already swam into the woman’s womb and can cause pregnancy even after successfully pulling out. Some men were not blessed with the agility and speed to action a withdrawal hence making it highly unreliable.

For some young women in Guruve, abandoning their bedchambers at night has become a norm and effective way contraception.  As risky as it seems, it has become an active tool necessary to keep their prurient husbands at bay. They either join their mother in laws in bed or the husbands’ sisters or somewhere where they are guaranteed the men won’t come begging to copulate.

Mrs Onerai Katanha from Chibondo Village says her daughters in law were now refusing to sleep in their bedrooms for fear of being impregnated unintentionally.

We are now sleeping in the same bedroom with our daughters in law. We tell them to go and sleep with their husbands but they refuse saying we will fall pregnant. It is now a huge crisis and we also fear that our sons will go out there and get diseases now.

“These are still young people and they still have high sexual needs unlike some of us who have seen it all already.”

Zimbabwe recently joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Contraception Day (WCD). However, should the prevailing contraceptives crisis persist, numerous efforts that have already been realised in improving contraception coverage could be reversed.

Meanwhile, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Technical Specialist-Family Planning Dr. Vibhavendra Raghuvanshi responding to a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health regarding the prevailing contraceptives shortage in Zimbabwe he said the shortage was mainly being driven by storage and distribution issues.

“As we speak for the year, if we look at the stocks that have been  coming into the country, I think we are not doing very bad on that. I think the challenge is on storage and distribution, I think that is one aspect and there could be many reasons behind,“ he said.

The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) articulated a bold vision about the relationships between population, development and individual well-being. This however can only be attained through availing modern contraceptives to all populations so as to cover the unmet need and unfinished business.

Women’s Action Group (WAG) Programs Officer, Fiona Tinarwo said the prevailing contraceptives woes may trigger cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and marital rape.

“Women to protect themselves may refuse their husbands sex. This may result in abuse and men might force themselves on their wives. We are calling on government to find a solution to this crisis as a matter of urgency.”
















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