Childless women speak of stigmatization and rejection

It is the joy of most women to have a baby.Unfortunately, some are not lucky enough to have their own children.Picture:Courtesy
It is the joy of most women to have a baby.Unfortunately, some are not lucky enough to have their own children.Picture:Courtesy

When a woman gets married, the anticipation of getting children is very exciting and high as they wait to be called mothers.

However, to some women holding their own babies becomes a far-fetched dream and this denies them the fulfilment of womanhood.

Sadly, the society is yet to embrace such women and the stigma against them is too high as they are blamed for lack of providing children.

Broken marriages, rejection by family members and ridicule by the society characterizes the lives of childless women.

A group of women dubbed Elohim Sisters which comprises of women who cannot bear children tell of their pain of childlessness.

Esther Wanjiku, who is the founder of the group, has been married for close to 20 years and her efforts to get a child has proven futile despite visiting various doctors.

This made her face fierce rejection from her family and close friends and Wanjiku spent a lot time crying and at times contemplating suicide.

With no one to turn to, she started moving around looking for other women who like her have been unable to bear children.

At first she found five and together they formed this support group and over the past two years the number has grown to over 20 women drawn from Kiambu and Murang’a among other parts of the country.

Wanjiku says this has been the pillar of support in their lives and that allows them to encourage each other, share experiences and pray together. They are able to find consolation in their hearts.

“We would like members of the society to embrace and show us love as well as give us moral support because people despise us,” explained Wanjiku.

She added: “This is one of the toughest conditions that a woman can find herself in because people fail to understand why they are unable to bear children.”

She says they intend to use the group as a platform to speak out and help fight discrimination against childless women.

“We want to use this group as our mouth piece to tell people to stop rejecting and discriminating us,” says Wanjiku adding that “the society has a very cruel by calling them names and this piles more pain into their already sad state”.

Fifty-year-old Teresia Wanjiku separated from her husband of 16 years due to lack of children. Wanjiku says she had undergone two surgeries with the hope that it would rectify her problem but to no avail.

Unable to hold her tears, Wanjiku says even at her age she still hopes that one day she will hold a baby in her hands. On many occasions, she wakes up happy but being ridiculed dampens her spirit.

Nancy Wangui has been married for the past five years. Efforts to get a child have been futile and this   has made her life miserable.

Wangui has opted to live a secluded life without attending even social functions because meeting other women with their children breaks her heart.

Wangui says women who have children do not understand why she cannot bear her own and even despise her.

“I opt to keep off such meetings because I will find other women and their children and it is very heart-breaking,” Wangui remarks.

Priscilla Kamene has her own share of the pain of childlessness. She says her friends do not invite her to baby showers arguing she will never invite them for the same.

Kamene says there is too much stigmatization and ridicule by friends who think it one’s choice not to have children.

Explains Kamene: “We have spent a lot of money on medical tests and gynaecologists to no avail and the only hope for us is to get children through the In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

This is a process of fertilization by extracting eggs and sperms and manually combining them in a laboratory dish before transferring the embryo into the uterus.

According to Kamene this procedure is very expensive and most of them cannot afford to pay for it. They are calling on the Government to put look at the interests of this special group of women and establish a facility where they can get the IVF done for free or at a subsidized fee.

“We have been told that the process could cost between KSh400,000 to KSh600,000 which is relatively high,” remarks Kamene.  She notes: “This facility if put up will cater for all women who find themselves in a situation where they unable to have children and lack financial capacity.”

Says Kamene: “The Beyond Zero campaign has really helped cater for mothers and their children and we need the same efforts put in place to help those women who are unable to conceive.”

According to Dr Stephen Ngige, Medical Superintendent at the Maragua Sub-County Hospital,  cases of women unable to conceive are increasingly on the rise but this is not the end of the road for them.

He says a good number of women have come to him seeking for remedy to their situation and have gladly   borne children.

Ngige says childlessness can be classified into two levels of primary and secondary infertility. Primary is quiet common pointing that out of 100 patients he gets at least one of them has the problem.

“This is largely contributed to by congenital defects which mostly affect the uterus, fallopian tubes and the ovaries,” he explains.

Secondary infertility can be contributed to by fibroids, cervical incompetence and infections with the most common one being Chlamydia which causes the pelvic inflammatory disease.

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