Religion and non-marital fertility: A qualitative study of the perspectives and experiences of South African Muslim women

Phindile Ngubane, Pranitha Maharaj, Shanaaz Dunn


In light of the rising number of children born outside of formal marriage, there is increasing concern about the well-being of these mothers and children, especially since they mostly come from disadvantaged populations. This study aims to determine the role religion plays in the experience of non–marital fertility. This study draws on data from ten in-depth interviews with women in Durban, South Africa. The study found that women did not anticipate the negative impact of non–marital fertility prior to experiencing their first birth. The main reason contributing to the experience of non–marital fertility was the lack of sex education. Many women believed that Islam allowed only married women to use contraceptives because unmarried women are expected to practice celibacy and their religion advocates for a two-parent household. As a result, unmarried women with children found themselves often ostracised from their community. The study recommends a comprehensive sexual education regime to address the challenges associated with non-marital fertility. (Afr J Reprod Health 2022; 26[7]: 49-58).

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