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Stud Fam Plann. 1988 Jul-Aug;19(4):236-43.

Attitudes of urban Sudanese men toward family planning.

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Department of Statistics, Cairo University, Khartoum Branch, Sudan.


Using data from the Male Attitude Survey of 1985, this paper shows that Sudanese men play a major role in family planning decision-making. Attitudes regarding family planning issues are presented for 1,500 men aged 18 years and over, living in urban areas of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. The decision not to practice family planning is found to be male-dominated, and husbands are responsible for providing contraceptives when family planning is practiced. Widespread misconceptions about vasectomy, along with a very low acceptance rate, exist among the men in the sample. It is concluded that the involvement of men in family planning programs will give these programs a better chance of success in the future.


The 1985 Male Attitude Survey, developed by the Sudan Fertility Control Association and Family Health International, is the 3rd knowledge, attitude, and practice survey done in the urban areas of Khartoum Province. The others were done in 1978 and 1982. Large families are desired in this area, and the fertility rate in the northern Sudan is 6.9. The sample for this study included 1500 Sudanese Moslem males over 18 from 835 households. 87% had some education; 7% were illiterate. 1/4 of the men were laborers or farmers, and the average monthly income was $38.00 (US). The average number of children ever born was 2.54. 96% of the respondents knew of at least 1 method of contraception, but only 18.7% had ever practiced it. Among the 636 ever-married men, 30.6% were ever-users. 59.5% of the men approved of family planning, or at least felt that it was not against Islamic law. Of the 90% of men who had any opinion about an ideal family size, the mean selected was 4.8. 40.2% of the men wanted more children, and 75% said that Islam encourages large families. Among ever-married men who expressed an opinion, 44.7% said that family planning decisions should be made jointly by husband and wife; 34.1% felt they were the husband's responsibility. Of the 475 ever-married men who had never practiced family planning, the decision had been made by the husband in 37% of the cases. Of the 258 men currently practicing contraception, the husband had made the decision in 13.9% of families; the decision was made jointly in 69.6% of families. In 61.3% of cases the contraceptives were obtained by the husband. 72.3% of families obtained contraceptives from private sources; only 6% went to a family planning clinic for contraceptives, and only 7.9% of those who had questions about family planning said that they would seek advice at a family planning clinic. 14.8% of families that stopped using contraceptives even though they wanted no more children, stopped contracepting because of the negative sociocultural associations of contraception. 30.6% of the men approved of tubal ligation for their wives, if circumstances warranted, but only 8.5% said they would accept vasectomy. 34% of the men thought of it as castration, 26% thought it reduces sexual potency, and 20% thought that it affects the ability to do manual labor. Since male attitudes toward family planning are bound to affect the success of a family planning program in urban Khartoum, it is suggested that future programs involve men as much as possible.

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