Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control

Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control

Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control

Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control

Synopsis

With a new introduction, this fully revised edition of a feminist classic reveals the dangers of contemporary population control tactivs, especially as they affect women in developing countries.

Excerpt

I arrived at the population issue from two different directions.

Coming of age in the late 1960s, I was a member of the "pill generation." While the media extolled the contraceptive revolution as the key to sexual liberation, the college health clinic prescribed the pill with great enthusiasm. Like so many other young women, I soon discovered that the pill made me feel heavy and depressed, and that "sexual liberation" was often a euphemism for being readily available to men. As feminism began to reshape my view of sexual politics, and politics in general, I abandoned the pill and returned to the safer barrier birth control methods of my mother's generation. I wondered why the clinic never encouraged their use. Elsewhere some of my friends had far worse experiences, ending up in the hospital with IUD complications and worrying that they would never be able to bear children.

Then in the mid-1970s my long-standing interest in South Asia and international development took me to a village in Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world. Here in the West, Bangladesh is typically thought of as an international basket case, a country whose population growth has already outstripped its resources. In the village, however, I encountered a very different reality. I found fertile land, plentiful water, and a climate warm enough for crops to be grown throughout the year. I met families with six or seven children who ate well and families with only two children who were starving.

The vital difference between them was land ownership. Almost a quarter of the village people owned no land at all and had to work for rich peasants and landlords for pitiful wages. They not only lacked the land on which to grow food, they also did not have enough cash to buy adequate supplies in the market. The real problem was not food scarcity, but land and income distribution.

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