Forced Pregnancy

last updated June 2010

In places where conflict is prevalent, rape and forced impregnation is often employed as a strategy to suppress ethnic or religious communities, making women highly vulnerable. This issue entered the international community’s consciousness after groups raised concerns about the rapes of women during the ethnic conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Rape was found to have been used as a form of ethnic cleansing.
Forced pregnancies or coerced reproduction, however, also occur in the everyday lives of women throughout the world. A study of family planning clinic patients in northern California, United States, showed that reproduction is often used by men as a weapon of control in abusive relationships. Elizabeth Miller, an assistant professor of pediatrics at University of California, Davis, found that men often use verbal threats, violence, or birth-control sabotage to get women pregnant. Such acts often go unpunished when they occur in the private sphere.
Amor, A. (2009). Study on freedom of religion or belief and the status of women in the light of religion and traditions. Addendum submitted to the Special Rapporteur in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 2001/42.
Hickey, E. (Ed.). (2003). Encyclopedia of murder and violence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
The Daily Beast (2010). Coerced reproduction. Follow-up study also found in Women’s Health Policy Report.