Original Research

COVID-19 vaccines, sexual reproductive health and rights: Negotiating sensitive terrain in Zimbabwe

Molly Manyonganise
Inkanyiso | Vol 16, No 1 | a104 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ink.v16i1.104 | © 2024 Molly Manyonganise | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 December 2023 | Published: 28 February 2024

About the author(s)

Molly Manyonganise, Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Culture and Heritage Studies, Zimbabwe Open University, Harare, Zimbabwe; and Department of Religion Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

The COVID-19 period caused a lot of suffering globally, as millions lost their lives while others went through the pain of being infected. The introduction of vaccines to minimise chances of infection and death was a welcome development. However, it was also fraught with its own challenges in the area of sexual health and rights of both women and men. Scholarship on gender and religion noted the way women failed to access contraception in a period in which sexual activity had increased as most couples were together for long periods of time. The introduction of vaccines was accompanied by a lot of misinformation. Lack of clarity on the effect of the vaccines on pregnant and lactating mothers caused a lot of anxiety. This was exacerbated by the information that was being circulated on social media platforms that the vaccines would interfere with individuals’ reproductive capacity. Yet African religio-cultural beliefs and practices place so much importance on both women and men’s ability to have children. In fact, one’s respectability in African indigenous societies is greatly linked to their ability to have children. This article seeks to examine the fears of some Zimbabweans to accept COVID-19 vaccines, establishing how these fears were tied to issues of sexual reproductive health and rights. The article focuses on showing how the terrain of sexual health and rights is a sensitive one which called for caution in a COVID-19 context in Zimbabwe. Data for the article were gathered through informal interviews and social media platforms.

Contribution: The article makes a significant contribution to the way COVID-19 interfaced with issues to do with SRHR in Zimbabwe.


Keywords

COVID-19; men; rights; sexual reproductive health; women; Zimbabwe

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education

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