ZAMBIA: Families Are Nations (FAN) has partnered with public and private organisations to promote child adaption in Zambia to help the stigma that is associated with infertility.
In an interview, FAN founder Judith Mwila said traditionally when a woman gets married she is expected to start bearing children. If this was not achieved, she would be considered useless.
She explained that the belief that a woman should bear a child when married resulted in some women without children being stigmatised by society, a situation that resulted in a spike in cases of child snatching.
“When a woman does not bear a child, people start asking questions; families start asking questions and families start coming on board influencing negatively,” Mwila said.
“Culturally, it is not that if she has a child a man can marry another woman. Sometimes they even wrongly attest to the word of God and say even Abraham according to the Bible had children. The stigma is driven by culture, tradition and expectations of families.”
Mwila also explained that to help address the problem, together with organisations like SOS Children’s Village and Child Care and Adoption Society, they were providing care for orphans and children at risk of losing parents to terminal ailments and facilitating adoption.
Mwila said although the strategy would help women and children have families, cultural perceptions would not be easily adopted because adoptive mothers’ families would not accept children.
She said this would curb child snatching because women fear stigmatisation from both the family and community. She explained that most of these women are even afraid to come out.
She also explained that most of these infertility issues were medically related. However, Mwila said people were still dragging their feet to seek medical assistance so that they could address fertility problems on time.
She said traditionally, men believed that they were capable of bearing children that is why when a couple cannot have children, only a woman takes the blame.
According to the latest statistics from Merck Foundation, 85% of infertility cases in Zambia and sub-Saharan Africa are caused by infections.
Recently, Lusaka magistrate Felix Kaoma sentenced a 24-year-old woman to three years imprisonment for snatching a three month-old child.