Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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NEGA Jibat, Jimma University, Ethiopia

This study examines young men’s life experiences pertinent to sexuality and fertility control in Tiro Afeta. Drawing upon hegemonic masculinity as its theoretical framework and ethnographic research design, it explores the involvement of young men in fertility control including induced abortion. It investigates the articulation between dominant views and young men’s perceptions, experiences of love relations, and premarital sex and use of fertility control. It also explores sexual negotiations between young men and young women, changes and continuities in norms, and practices and expectations of masculinity. The study found that the dominant views condemn premarital sexuality, pregnancy, and induced abortion; however, these restrictive rules are practically fallible in young lives sexual and reproductive lives. Young men initiate question of love whereas young women keep it lively. Love relations are socially expected to lead to marriage without premarital sexuality, whereas many relations contradicts the rule. Young people negotiate sex; young women focus on the commitment level of the young men for marriage as men usually abandon young women when pregnancy occurs. Friends serve as channel of negotiation, and use of mobile phones has changed patterns of negotiation. The negotiation involves no or little force. Schools, streets, market, wood and water collection places are settings for dating. Women have more favorable view of using contraceptive use than men. However, fear of side effects and infertility, varying values for children, and service related challenges limit peoples’ propensity to use contraceptives. Involvement of young men in contraceptive use ranges from strongly disapproving to questioning its relevance to encouraging women to use. Service programs are not responsive to men’s reproductive concerns and interests. As a young man is expected to marry a woman he impregnates, at times, young women purposely get pregnant from young men they want to marry. Abortion service is clandestinely practiced in modern and traditional ways. Young women’s needs and interests are given priority by skilled abortion care providers. Constructive young men’s involvement in fertility control is manifested in sharing concerns and cooperating with women. Yet some avoid to involve in fertility control by refusing use of condom and embodying gender-based division of tasks.