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This phenomenon contributes to the high birth rates noted earlier, as does a lack of use of contraceptives.
During the 1980s, when lax enforcement expanded access to medical abortion, studies conducted at a large maternity hospital in Managua determined that illicit abortions accounted for 45 percent of admissions and were the leading cause of maternal deaths.
However, premarital and extramarital relations, more or less expected from men, are stigmatized in women.
The ideal female role, glorified in the culture, is that of mother.
Because men assume little of the domestic workload, the growth in female labor force participation has meant a double workday for many Nicaraguan women.
Middle- and upper-class women have a good chance of escaping this trap as they are much less likely to work outside the home and can depend on domestic help for household duties.
Peasant women traditionally have performed agricultural labor as unpaid family workers; their economic significance thus probably has been underestimated by official labor statistics.