CHILDLESSNESS AND SOCIO-CULTURAL IMPACT ON MARRIED COUPLES (A CASE STUDY OF IDAH COMMUNITY IN KOGI STATE)
The research is an in-depth analysis of childlessness and socio-cultural impact on married couples in idah urban community of Kogi State. The study explored ways of reducing pressure both from the family and the society as a whole with particular reference to examining the existing causes and effects of infertility in the society. The instrument for data collection used for this research was questionnaire. The sampling techniques used for this study was cross-sectional survey research design. One hundred (100) respondents were randomly selected. The data collected were analyzed using tables and percentages. From the analysis of the data, it was found that programmers‟ like marriage forum in idah urban community could help reduce feeling of inferiority complex among childless couples. Negative attitude of childless couples towards child adoption and the significant relationship between childless couples and leadership role were found. The findings from the study necessitated certain recommendations which include the fact that childless couples should seek for medical treatment jointly instead of allowing one partner to carry the burden alone among others.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
In idah urban community, as in most other parts of the country, procreation is one of the major functions of the family. Every man take a wife apparently to have children with them, where this main purpose for marriage is not forthcoming into fulfillment, it is then result to tension in most cases which lead to misunderstanding and disputes in the family. In traditional igala society, many wives try to ensure the procreation of children to its fullest limit.
For most of history, childlessness has been regarded as great personal tragedy involving much emotional pain and grief, especially when it is resulted from failure to conceive or from the death of a child (Mail, Charlene, 1986). Before conception was well understood, childlessness was usually blamed on the woman and this in itself added to the high level negative emotional and social effects of childlessness. Some wealthy families also adopted children as a means of providing heirs in case of childlessness or where no son had been born, the monetary incentives offered by westerners desire for children is so strong that a commercial market in the child laundering business exists (McCurry, 2005).
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Throughout the world and particularly in African societies, igala land not exempted, the word “childlessness” sends a cold signal to the ears of listener and a sense of pity is immediately aroused in the mind. In igala land, children are regarded as great treasure to their parents, relations and their immediate community. Many people suffer from childlessness for so many reasons such as drug abuse, hard drugs affect, contraception, numerous abortions, and genetically inherited sickness and in most cases, psychological problems.
The number of childless couples is tremendously on the increase, this is evident to the fact that attempts to initiate a move which would have been directed towards adoption is taken with serious resistance in some places mostly by couples without even a child. Meanwhile, most couples are childless as a result of the degree of their waywardness while they were youths or younger and unmarried, such as illicit use of drugs in order to avoid pregnancy (Ugwuanyi, 1999).
In idah urban community, childlessness is echoed by the fact that most couples are not aware of the prevalence of medical treatment; this therefore makes them not to seek medical assistance for such form of ailment. According to Nwapa (2004), some couples attribute their problem of childlessness to the supernatural, the hope in God that gives children to remember them at the appropriate time while some couples usually fall back to the fact that adoption, they are comforted for being biological infertile, they no longer want to know the cause of their infertility and solve it or get rid of it Hales, (2000).
According to Dike (2013), the police have smashed a suspected syndicate whose alleged stock in trade was defrauding desperate barren women through false miracle babies. He also narrated the agony of a 61 year old barren woman who travel to port Harcourt to consult miracle workers God was using to bless the barren and make them fruitful, they told her to pay #1.5 million, she paid the money and was given some seed to eat, after eating it, she began to stool. It took about nine months before the miracle workers told her that God had answered her prayers, this is the plight of childless woman.
This study is therefore intended to carry out a survey to find out what childlessness means and the social problems associated with childlessness in idah urban community.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
These research questions will guide the study;
i. Are childless couples in idah urban community aware of the medical treatment of infertility?
ii. To what extent have childless couples sort for medical solution to their problems in idah community?
iii. What are the factors that have affected the fertility of couples in idah urban community?
iv. What has been the attitude of childless couples towards child adoption as a way out of their problems?
v. What is the socio-cultural impacts of childlessness couples are on married couples in idah urban community?
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main purpose of this study includes:
i. To know if childless coupled in idah urban community are aware of medical treatment for infertility.
ii. To find out the extent to which childless couples sort for medical solutions to their problems in idah urban community.
iii. To examine those factors that are responsible for infertility of couples in idah community.
iv. To find out what has been the attitude of childless couples towards child adoption as a form of solution to their problems.
v. To determine the socio-cultural impact of childlessness on married couples in idah urban community and the socio-cultural situation of the society at large.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
These research work has both practical and theoretical significance.
This study will be of great practical significance to the couples and the entire society revealing to the prevalence of medical solutions to the childlessness which can be handled by experts in the medical field, also be enlightened enough to seek medical solutions to their problem and do away with superstitious belief. It will also make the society to learn to accept childless couples as they are and as respected members in the society.
Other researchers in the same topic will find this work valuable. This study will add to the existing body of knowledge and create room for further research where necessary on the socio-cultural and economic impact on married couples. It will also provide necessary and vital data on how childlessness creates problems in the family and society at large. It will also be a good guide to future couples who may find it difficult to conceive and bear their own children.
1.6 DEFINITIONS OF CONCEPTS
i. Adoption: A non-biological child of a family but legally accepted as a member of that family.
ii. Childless: The inability to conceive and bear a child for married couples. It may have personal, social and or political significance (Peter, N. 2010). They are two distinguishable types of childlessness, voluntary and involuntary, voluntary childlessness is described as childfree, it is a consequence of having made a decision not to produce. To be childless not by choice is defined as involuntary childlessness (Miall Charlene, 1986).
iii. Contraception: It refers to a drug, device or practice used to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant.
iv. Couple: This refers to a man and woman united in marriage.
v. Culture: According to Edward Tylor (1871), culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.
vi. Fertility: The ability to conceive after sexual intercourse.
vii. Infertility: The inability to conceive after a period of 12 months of uncontrollable sexual intercourse (Billings, 2000).
viii. Inheritance: This refers to an ownership of certain property after the death of the original owner.
ix. Linage: The series of families that one belongs to or descends from.
x. Sexual Intercourse: The physical activity of sex played by couples in order for them to procreate.
xi. Surrogate Mother: This refers to where one act as, serve as or a mother substitute. A woman who bears a child for another person, often for pay, either through artificial insemination or by carrying until birth another mother‟s surgical operation.