‘We’ve Paid your Vagina to Make Children!ʼ: Bridewealth and Women’s Marital and Reproductive Autonomy in Port-Vila, Vanuatu

Alice Servy

In Vanuatu, the practice of bridewealth is widespread. However, according to international and national development organizations based in the capital Port-Vila, this practice impedes women’s freedom, including women’s reproductive autonomy. In this paper, using data gathered in Port-Vila between 2009 and 2018, I examine the practice of marriage in Port-Vila and argue against this development discourse. The author analyses the transformations of marriage showing the increasing autonomy of young people in the selection of marriage partners and the links between marriage, bridewealth and reproductive autonomy. She emphasize the changes in the nature of bridewealth marriage in a contemporary urban context and its implications for female fertility control. The author concludes that bridewealth is only one among several factors that influence women’s reproductive autonomy in Port-Vila.

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Research Type(s)
Journal Article
Submitted by Almah Tararia
June 21, 2022
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