Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE credits
Aim: The aim of this thesis was to explore the perceptions and experiences of women living with obstetric fistula in Eastern Sudan, in order to identify discourses that may contribute to the incidence of obstetric fistula.
Background and relevance: Women with obstetric fistula suffer from stigmatisation and isolation. Obstetric fistula is often associated with child marriage, socioeconomic and gender inequalities which influence women’s decision-making power. Previous studies have not focused on power relations that may put women at risk for obstetric fistula as well as how they affect their experiences. Additionally, obstetric fistula has not been studied sufficiently in Eastern Sudan.
Method: A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with nine women in Sudan was conducted. Discourse analysis with a Foucauldian approach was used.
Findings: Three discourses were identified; powerlessness, normalisation and resistance. Powerlessness revealed the existence of power relations between the women, their families, their husbands and their society with regards to circumcision and marriage which influenced their status and their experiences with obstetric fistula. Normalisation included an acceptance and internalisation of social norms as absolute truth. Subtle resistance discourse was observed as women tried to take a stand against social norms as well as harassment from the community connected to their fistula.
Conclusion: Powerlessness, normalisation and reproduction of social and gender practices contribute to the development of obstetric fistula and the experiences of affected women. Historical, legal, political, economical and global discourse should be analysed to fully grasp the contextual effect and plan achievable interventions to improve maternal health.
2015. , 56 p.