Reproductive health concerns in six conflict-affected areas of Sri Lanka

Reprod Health Matters. 2008 May;16(31):75-82. doi: 10.1016/S0968-8080(08)31359-7.


This article draws on a study conducted by the Women and Media Collective between 2004 and 2005 to highlight some of the reproductive health concerns of women from Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim ethnic groups, living in situations of conflict in Sri Lanka. The study focussed on women from six conflict-affected areas in the north and east of the country: Jaffna (Northern Province), Mannar and Puttalam (North-Western Province), Polonnaruwa (North-Central Province), Batticaloa and Ampara (Eastern Province). Higher levels of poverty, higher rates of school drop-out, low pay and precarious access to work, mainly in the informal sector, higher rates of early marriage, pregnancy and home births, higher levels of maternal mortality and lower levels of contraceptive use were found. Economic, social and physical insecurity were key to these phenomena. Physically and psychologically, women were at high risk of sexual and physical violence, mainly from their partners/spouses but also from family members, often related to dowry. The article brings out the voices of women whose lives have been overshadowed by conflict and displacement, and the nature of structural barriers that impede their right to health care services, to make informed decisions about their lives and to live free of familial violence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty Areas
  • Refugees
  • Reproductive Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reproductive Medicine* / statistics & numerical data
  • Sri Lanka
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Warfare*