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Balancing tradition and modernity in narratives surrounding contraception use among poorer women in West Bengal, India.
Unformatted Document Text:  10 this study was conducted are called PP (post-partum) clinics. This is significant, because it means that it makes it more convenient for women to access birth control services, as immunizations for children, and to a much lesser degree ante and post natal care, is largely seen as essential. In these clinics, staff are geared toward asking women to use permanent fertility control if the woman comes in around the time of her second child (or beyond), and birth control to space a second birth if a woman comes in around the time of her first (N. Das, personal interview, Nov 2, 2000 ) 2 . This, in addition to economic factors like rising rates of un and under employment have created a situation where awareness of fertility control is wide, and 73% of women in urban areas and 65% in rural areas are currently on birth control in the state of West Bengal (International Institute of Population Sciences, 2001). What women said about having/ not having children. Straightforward conflict is most often a result of a woman not wanting to have a/ another baby and her marital family opposing her. The most powerful figure in the opposition is most often either the husband or the mother-in-law or both. This is fairly common and has been documented (Seal, 2000). If there is marital family opposition to the use of birth control, this research found, a woman has to be very careful about where she goes for information about this. As sexuality and birth control are matters of lajja (a culturally loaded word meaning shame/embarrassment and women’s privacy issues). The primary fear is of being 2 Nandita Das is a Social Welfare Officer (SWO) at M.R. Bangur Hospital in Kolkata. She provides counseling to women coming in to the PP clinic at Bangur.

Authors: Mookerjee, Devalina.
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10
this study was conducted are called PP (post-partum) clinics. This is significant, because
it means that it makes it more convenient for women to access birth control services, as
immunizations for children, and to a much lesser degree ante and post natal care, is
largely seen as essential. In these clinics, staff are geared toward asking women to use
permanent fertility control if the woman comes in around the time of her second child (or
beyond), and birth control to space a second birth if a woman comes in around the time of
her first (N. Das, personal interview, Nov 2, 2000 )
2
.
This, in addition to economic factors like rising rates of un and under employment
have created a situation where awareness of fertility control is wide, and 73% of women
in urban areas and 65% in rural areas are currently on birth control in the state of West
Bengal (International Institute of Population Sciences, 2001).
What women said about having/ not having children.
Straightforward conflict is most often a result of a woman not wanting to have a/
another baby and her marital family opposing her. The most powerful figure in the
opposition is most often either the husband or the mother-in-law or both. This is fairly
common and has been documented (Seal, 2000).
If there is marital family opposition to the use of birth control, this research found,
a woman has to be very careful about where she goes for information about this. As
sexuality and birth control are matters of lajja (a culturally loaded word meaning
shame/embarrassment and women’s privacy issues). The primary fear is of being
2
Nandita Das is a Social Welfare Officer (SWO) at M.R. Bangur Hospital in Kolkata. She provides
counseling to women coming in to the PP clinic at Bangur.


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