Reproductive Coercion and Legal Recognition: Views of Domestic Violence Support Workers and Lawyers
Reproductive coercion is increasingly recognised as a common part of women’s experiences of domestic violence. The term refers to behaviour that aims to compromise a woman’s control over her reproductive choices. It includes coercing a woman to become pregnant or to terminate a pregnancy and sabotaging contraception. There is no Australian research exploring how domestic violence support and legal services understand and respond to reproductive coercion when it is raised. Drawing on focus group discussions, this article questions the use of the terminology ‘reproductive coercion’ suggesting that ‘reproductive abuse’ may be more accessible. The article finds that the response to reproductive coercion in the legal context may be similar to sexual violence allegations, particularly regarding difficulties associated with reporting and with the victim being believed. This connection is worthy of further investigation. The article concludes that legislative change may improve the recognition of reproductive coercion.
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