A fresh report as obtained by Naija News has revealed that certain men in the African country of Uganda are forcing their wives to breastfeed them.
The practice is said to have been fueled by the belief amidst these men that suckling their wive’s breastmilk has both medicinal and healing values.
It is understood from the study carried out by Kyambogo University in Kampala and the Britain’s University of Kent, supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund that the men believe breastmilk can even cure HIV/AIDS, cancer, as well as male dysfunction.
Calls have however gone out to the government on the need to stop the act by these Ugandan men who coerce their wives to breastfeed them.
The country’s minister of state for health, Sarah Opendi is quoted by New Vision to have told the Ugandan parliament while addressing the issue that “Men are part of the problem during breastfeeding. A mother is breastfeeding, you also want something on the other side, saying that it can cure HIV/AIDS, cancer, male dysfunction. It is a myth.”
She had warned that “a growing culture of men demanding to suckle, which was becoming a problem for some breastfeeding mothers and their babies”.
According to The Guardian UK, findings from the study conducted in the rural Buikwe district — where it is believed to be rampant — showed the practice is now linked to gender violence and coercive behaviour, The Cable reports.
Rowena Merritt, a British behavioural scientist who specialises in public health and a lead researcher on the project, added that the fact many people still remain silent about the practice shows its not socially accepted.
“It was very much an exploratory mission. We didn’t know if we would find anybody willing to talk to us who admitted to doing it. We didn’t even really know if it was real or not,” he said.
“One said: ‘I know other men do it, but we’ve never talked about it.’ So that to me would suggest that it is a common behaviour, but it isn’t socially accepted.”
Preliminary findings from the study as explained by Merritt revealed that most of the women are being coerced by their husbands to breastfeed them.
“It appears to be a hugely coerced behaviour from the people we spoke to,” he said.
Peter Rukundo, a senior lecturer at Kyambogo University who assisted with the research, noted that men who engage in the act strongly believe that breast milk from their wives has some medicinal benefits.
“There is a belief in some communities that breast milk has energising and curative powers, even curing diseases such as HIV and Aids and cancer,” he said.
“There is a gap in public awareness of the risks in such practices. But the challenge is we don’t have the evidence of the magnitude of this behaviour. We need a survey on prevalence.”
Thomas, one of such men, is reported to have told the researchers that he feels energised after sucking his wife’s breast, adding he could beat his wife should she refuse him.
“It sustains me, I come home for lunch and it relieves stress in the middle of the working day,” he said.
“She can’t say no because you become obsessed, it’s hard to stop. If women say no it can cause violence, it’s a big issue.”
Some women are also scared of losing their husbands to other women, hence are forced to comply with the practice, the study also revealed.
“I fear that my husband might go elsewhere if I wouldn’t let it happen,” one of the women was quoted as saying.
It is believed that the development has been linked to gender-based violence in the Karamoja region in north-east Uganda.
However, health professionals, including midwives and nutritionists, who interacted with the researchers, have called for the ban on the practice, as according to them, it exposes newly born babies to risk of infections from breasts from the men’s saliva.
“The fear for me, is the longer that this continues it will become part of the culture and tradition for the next generation. I see parallels with FGM,” Merritt said.