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Balancing tradition and modernity in narratives surrounding contraception use among poorer women in West Bengal, India.
Unformatted Document Text:  14 arguments, it seems, have an impact on women’s minds. Several women brought up both these arguments in discussions about birth control, and used almost exactly the same words as I heard them from the SWOs (Social Welfare Officers). The first argument women understand as something that translates directly into their lives. As one woman at Diamond Harbor with three children, pregnant with her fourth at the time of this interview said: “Everyone knows that if you have fewer children you can feed and clothe them better, give them an education, make their lives better than yours. When she (the SWO) told me this I felt that she knew about my life.” The second argument is a little broader in scope, and several women stated this as a reason for not having any more children than they already had. It goes that the nation has limited space and resources, and if women keep having babies, there will soon be no resources left. Too many people mean that every one gets less. An important part of this argument is that if women have too many children and resources really do run out, places such as government subsidized clinics will not exist anymore. This was seen by many women to pose a direct threat to their already difficult lives. One woman at Bangur who was waiting to have an IUD (Inter Uterine Device) inserted said: “I wanted another one (she has two children), but then Didi (Nandita Bose, SWO at Bangur) told me that if I kept having children the government would not longer be able to have places like this in a while (…) so I decided not to have any more (…) we are poor, I can’t see a private doctor.”

Authors: Mookerjee, Devalina.
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14
arguments, it seems, have an impact on women’s minds. Several women brought up both
these arguments in discussions about birth control, and used almost exactly the same
words as I heard them from the SWOs (Social Welfare Officers).
The first argument women understand as something that translates directly into
their lives. As one woman at Diamond Harbor with three children, pregnant with her
fourth at the time of this interview said:
“Everyone knows that if you have fewer children you can feed and
clothe them better, give them an education, make their lives better than
yours. When she (the SWO) told me this I felt that she knew about my
life.”
The second argument is a little broader in scope, and several women stated this as a
reason for not having any more children than they already had. It goes that the nation has
limited space and resources, and if women keep having babies, there will soon be no
resources left. Too many people mean that every one gets less. An important part of this
argument is that if women have too many children and resources really do run out, places
such as government subsidized clinics will not exist anymore. This was seen by many
women to pose a direct threat to their already difficult lives. One woman at Bangur who
was waiting to have an IUD (Inter Uterine Device) inserted said:
“I wanted another one (she has two children), but then Didi (Nandita
Bose, SWO at Bangur) told me that if I kept having children the
government would not longer be able to have places like this in a while
(…) so I decided not to have any more (…) we are poor, I can’t see a
private doctor.”


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