Negotiating between health-based contraceptive concerns and piety : the experiences of Muslim wives in the greater Durban area.
This qualitative, empirical study was located within a feminist research paradigm employing a phenomenological research design. The purpose was to understand the „lived experiences‟ of South African Muslim women in the Greater Durban area negotiating between their health-based contraceptive concerns and their pietistic concerns to observe God‟s will through the course of being good wives. The application of both phenomenological and feminist critical theoretical frameworks was beneficial to understand the forms of analyses applied to these negotiations that occurred within the gendered space of marriage. The conscious and goal-directed decisions to use contraception and to cultivate piety prompted the use of the theory of planned behaviour as the conceptual framework. Data was produced through in-depth, face-to-face interviews guided by open ended questions. This was followed by a reading task and guided written narrative to explore the impact of the discursive construct of gender and agency in popular Islamic literature. Data was analysed within a thematic framework. The findings of this study indicate that these South African Muslim wives do not perceive themselves to be negotiating between health-based contraceptive concerns and piety. Contraception is viewed in terms of the practical considerations of health and is unrelated to their pietistic concerns to observe God‟s will. Instead, these South African Muslim women face moral conflicts by prioritising domestic responsibility and sexual availability to their spouses irrespective of personal desire. These considerations more than contraceptive concerns are determined by the need to acquire God‟s favour through the observance of divine commands. Motivated by their desire to please God, though not oblivious to the deliberate choice to comply with normative prescriptions of women‟s roles which perpetuate androcentric norms and patriarchal structures, the women negotiate and renegotiate their living conditions as an assertion of their agentic positions in the process of pietistic self-making. This continuous process is fuelled by their ultimate desire for peace in their homes, the overall objective of marriage, and their pietistic aspirations of acquiring Heaven.