Barriers to marriage and motherhood: the experiences of disabled women in Malaysia

Aizan Sofia Amin, Azianura Hani Shaari, Khairul Farhah Khairuddin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The conceptualisation of disability is contested globally and issues in gender studies further complicate the movement towards the development of an inclusive and equal society. However, most disability and gender research studies are based on the data collected in the Global North, and little is known about disabled women in the Global South. The data presented here is from a bigger study focusing on the lived experiences of women with disabilities. This paper sets to explore how disabled women in Malaysia experience their lives in terms of marriage and motherhood prospects. The data of this qualitative study was collected from a set of in-depth interviews involving 32 women in Malaysia with physical (mobility) impairment. Over a period of 6 months, 16 Malays, 8 Chinese and 8 Indian women were interviewed twice. The analysis proposes both retrospective and introspective accounts on marriage and motherhood. The data gathered from the in-depth interviews was transcribed and analysed thematically with the help of NVivo software. The findings indicated that most participants have experienced significant barriers concerning individual constraints, familial control, and societal barriers. These were discussed with the intrinsic aspects and contextual factors of living in a patriarchal and traditional society that significantly undermined the wellbeing of disabled women in this study. Nevertheless, many of those interviewed refused to give up their hope of having a family life despite the constant struggles they encountered in their pursuit of happiness. However, their aspirations to experience family life were restricted and this caused them to experience significant psycho-emotional problems. They were constantly reminded that they were ‘disabled’ and not worthy of experiencing life like other women. The paper will discuss these challenges and negative societal attitudes towards the issue.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHistory of the Family
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2019

Fingerprint

motherhood
Malaysia
marriage
experience
gender studies
disability
traditional society
interview
Motherhood
Marriage
happiness

Keywords

  • Barriers
  • disabled women
  • Malaysia
  • marriage
  • motherhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Barriers to marriage and motherhood : the experiences of disabled women in Malaysia. / Amin, Aizan Sofia; Shaari, Azianura Hani; Khairuddin, Khairul Farhah.

In: History of the Family, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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