Effect of Polygamous Marriage on the Reproductive Health and Nutritional Status of Currently Married Women in Meskan and Mareko District (Butajira) , Southern Ethiopia

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Addis Abeba Universty


Polygamous marriage is widely practiced in our country. About 14% of currently married women are in polygamous union with marked regional variations. Although polygamy is widely practiced, there are very few studies on its health or economic consequences. A total of 692 currently married women (226 in polygamous and 466 in monogamous union) aged 15-49 were selected in the Meskan and Mareko District southern Ethiopia using multistage systematic random sampling. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to collect data. The study aimed at examining the effect of polygamous marriage on the nutritional status and reproductive health women. In addition the study tried to compare the two groups of women in terms of their socio-demographic & economic characteristics, decision making power, occurrence of diseases and health seeking behavior, nutritional status and selected elements of reproductive health. Result showed that women in polygamous union were more affected by chronic energy deficiency (CED) compared to those in monogamous union. [AOR (95% CI) : 1.55 (1.08,2.22). However attendance of ANC and use of family planning were not found to be significantly different between the two marriage forms (polygamous and monogamous). Urbanization and literacy of both women and husbands were the factors identified to be affecting both the nutritional status and reproductive health of women. More women in polygamous union were older in age, Moslem, illiterate and had previous marriages compared to those in monogamous union. Polygamous husbands were illiterate, farmers and had more number of children compared to monogamous husbands, which was significant. Although women in polygamous union possessed farmland they were at risk of having farm product insufficiency. On the average women in polygamous union vii compared to those in monogamous union got married earlier (mean age at first marriage 15.8 Vs 16.3), had larger number of pregnancies (5.61 Vs 4.8) and deliveries (5.3 Vs 4.7) where the observed differences were significant. The decision making power were at largely under the husbands'. Women in polygamous union seemed to exercise more decisions making compared to women in monogamous union except for major decisions where the difference became negligible. In conclusion women in polygamous union were at socio-demographic, socioeconomic, nutritional and reproductive health disadvantages. Hence there is a need to discourage polygamy through religious leaders, community participation and involvement of other related sectors. Urban residence and enhancing the educational level of both men and women are the key factors in improving both the nutritional and reproductive health states of women.



Effect of Polygamous Marriage on the Reproductive Health