The socio-cultural influences on sexual and reproductive rights of women in the church forum in Swaziland.
This study has endeavored to find out socio-cultural factors that influence gender injustices with special focus on sexual and health reproductive rights of women in Swaziland community. It has further examined the extent to which Church Forum as ecumenical instrument has addressed these issues of concern. It has been argued that gender injustice in Swaziland is a result of multifaceted factors. In the first place, the model of governance stands at the apex in championing gender injustice while perpetuating the violation of women sexual and health reproductive rights. It has been found that Swaziland community has embraced a hybrid of both Western and traditional features of governance where the preeminence of the traditional element has been evident. Patriarchal dominance is the second another contributing factor to the plights of women’s gender injustice on issues of sexual and health reproductive rights. This has been compounded by polygamous marriage which is overwhelmingly evident and which is honored, respected and cherished throughout the community. Coupled with absolute poverty, a third factor, these are the critical factors that have significantly contributed to promoting gender injustice forcing most women to engage into a risk unhealthy sexual and reproductive behavior. The Church Forum, which stands as ecumenical instrument has made an intense attempt in addressing issues that affect the entire community of Swaziland, particularly women’s concern. However, this study has revealed that the church engagement has been narrowly limited to HIV and AIDS and food security. It is due to this deficiency of the church engagement into the broader perspective of gender inequalities, unhealthy women’s sexual and reproductive rights have persisted. In this regard, the study has suggested that the ecumenical body in Swaziland should take a more holistic life-affirming approach in order to address women’s gender concerns comprehensively. Such approach must begin with a re-envisioning ecumenical commitment while incorporating aspects of radical feminist approach in order to foster life-enhancing change in Swaziland Community, especially women sexual and health reproductive rights.