The hide-and-seek game: men's perspectives on abortion and contraceptive use within marriage in a rural community in Zimbabwe

J Biosoc Sci. 2002 Jul;34(3):317-32. doi: 10.1017/s0021932002003176.


This paper is based on a study aimed at understanding the perceptions of men to induced abortion and contraceptive use within marriage in rural Zimbabwe. Two qualitative methods were combined. Men were found to view abortion not as a reproductive health problem for women. Instead, they described abortion as a sign of illicit sexual activity and contraceptive use as a strategy married women use to conceal their involvement in extramarital sexual activity. Men felt anxious and vulnerable for lack of control over women. In the absence of verbal communication on sexual matters, women and men resort to what are called here 'hide-and-seek' strategies, where women acquire and use contraceptives secretly while men search for evidence of such use. It is concluded that promoting women's sexual and reproductive health requires both short- and long-term strategies. The short-term strategy would entail providing women with reproductive technology they can use without risking violence. The long-term strategy would entail understanding men's concerns and the way these are manifested. In turn this requires the use of methodologies that encourage dialogue with research participants, in order to capture their deep meanings and experiences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / psychology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Contraception Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Sex Factors
  • Zimbabwe