The Republic of Congo is a former French colony in sub-Saharan Africa with high poverty and birth rates. Women in the formal sector receive maternity leave benefits. Many women live in polygamous marriages; divorce is common. Christianity and indigenous African beliefs influence marriage forms and reproductive rites and rituals. Use of modern contraceptives is low. Many women lack skilled birth attendants and maternal mortality is very high. Government efforts support safe motherhood and women's advancement. An average of 5.9 children per mother reflects cultural and religious norms that encourage large families and discourage family planning. For rural traditionalists, having a large family and several wives is a sign of status and a way to support widows and orphans in a nation with 70 percent poverty. ...

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