Ecuador: Study Regarding Young Women’s Sexual, reproductive health and rights

Posted on February 26, 2017 • Filed under: Culture, Ecuador, Latin America Health, Latin America Womens Issues

Young women’s sexual
and reproductive health
and rights in Ecuador.
Evelina Persson &
Linnéa Englund
Malin Lindroth
2017 01
An empirical study
Introduction The absence of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is the greatest
health problem among women aged 15 – 44 in developing countries. Gender
inequalities, lack of knowledge, discrimination and oppression makes it hard for
women to decide over the own body and sexuality (International Planned Parenthood
Federation, 2015; Mänskliga Rättigheter, n.d.). Issues concerning women’s SRHR are
complex but important to raise to enable the strengthening of women’s empowerment, human rights, health and sustainable development globally (Mänskliga rättigheter, n.d.). The Catholic Church has strict opinions regarding sexuality and reproduction and influences the people in Latin America (Filopovic, 2013; Smallman, 2007), including Ecuador where the study was performes

A society ruled by men
The Ecuadorian society is described as a society ruled by men where the man is seen
as superior to the woman and that most relationships are unequal regarding SRHR.
“This culture ruled by men is really powerful here because men decide about the sexuality the woman have, what she can have, if she wants to protect herself he will tell her she cannot do that.” Valentina


It was described that even if schools are teaching young women about their SRHR,
young women do not apply it in real life due to fear of losing their boyfriend. The
value of obeying the boyfriend is something many young women learn from their
parents. “Her mother told her that she had to respect him and say what he wants,
no matter what he wants she will do it.” Elena It was described that boys and girls
are treated differently by parents and the society regarding SRHR. The described reason why was they know that the girl could end up pregnant with a lot of responsibilities and the boy can just walk away. It was claimed that women often feel obligated to have sex with the man especially if the man is superior by age, knowledge or has financial power, which usually is the case in lower
or middle class families. Some explained that women sometimes try to say no to their
men regarding sex and reproduction, but if the man does not agree the woman will
surrender. “You can say no I don’t want to have five children I only want two but if
the man say: I don’t care you have to give me children, the women have no say.” Elena
Some interviewees argued that relationships are often more equal if the woman is
educated and has financial power and does not have to rely on the man. Women with
financial power can more easily use their sexual and reproductive rights and in that
way achieve greater sexual and reproductive health. Some stated that equality within
relationships depends on values of the family. It was argued to be common among
young women in the lower and middle class to get sexually abused by a family
member or within a relationship and it was described as unusual to report the sexual
abuse. It was described that the feeling of being trapped in a sexually abusive
relationship, without anywhere to escape sometimes leads to a suicide attempt. It was
claimed as common for men to use sexual and physical abuse to dominate or solve
problems within the relationship. An increased number of homicides the last two
years where the man kills the woman within the relationship, so called “femecidio”
was mentioned. A described reason for increased homicides lately was t
hat women have started to elevate in the community with work and responsibilities, which makes
men feel jealous and diminished.

Clinical implications
The aim with this study was to examine young women’s (10-
30 years) sexual and reproductive health and rights in Ecuador according adults with knowledge and/or own lived experiences within the phenomenon. Since young women’s SRHR seems to
be endangered this study can be used for future efforts to strengthen SRHR among young women in Ecuador. Further it would be interesting to study the sexuality education that is given in schools because the various amount of descriptions gained during the interviews. Nurses may use this study to gain knowledge and understanding regarding SRHR within a cultural and religious context, since we are living in a multicultural society where nurses meet people with different backgrounds
on a daily basis. Nurses may use this study to get a better understanding of how complex health is and that to experience health, all parts of health needs to be satisfied including the sexual and reproductive health. Nurses may also use this to understand the importance of providing accurate, easily understood and accessible patient information to enable patients to take informed decisions.

The result indicates that young women’s SRHR are endangered in Ecuador. Lack of knowledge regarding SRHR may lead to that young women have risky sexual behaviour, since they are unaware of the consequences. Minimal power regarding SRHR among young women in Ecuador entails not receiving knowledge or access to what is required to remain their SRHR. This may lead to young women getting
infected by an STI, not knowing what it is, how to treat it or what consequences it may entail if not getting treated such as infertility or AIDS. It may also lead to unplanned pregnancies among young women which in turn can lead to having to go
through with an unsafe and illegal abortion where complications such as bleeding,
infection and death are common. If choosing to keep the baby the young women risk
being looked down upon by society, friends and family which may entail feelings of
loneliness. The young women could experience depression as a result of being forced
to keep the baby when not feeling ready to become a mother. Lack of support
especially from family could lead to that young women are forced to drop out of
school and start working full-time and having to live economically
deprived. Findings in the result clearly show that when SRHR is challenged it does not only affect the physical well being but also the psychological, emotional, social and economical
wellbeing for young women in Ecuador. If all parts of human health are not experienced for example the sexual and reproductive health, health is not achieved. A human that is not experiencing complete health can therefore not be a part of global health. Read Full Empirical Study, pdf

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