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Balancing tradition and modernity in narratives surrounding contraception use among poorer women in West Bengal, India.
Unformatted Document Text:  15 The nation’s and the women’s own interests, therefore are seen as inextricably intertwined, and there are women who point to the good of the nation as a reason for limiting or spacing births. However women do not necessarily wait for clinic staff to convince them to start using birth control. Things really are different today, a sentiment also echoed by older and younger women. Unlike even ten years ago, there are very many more women using birth control with their family’s permission and support (N. Das, personal interview, 20 January 2002 ). The reasons they give for this are economic relating to the husband’s position and a better life for their children. Several women I talked with had husbands who had non-regular or non-existing sources of income. In many of these cases, the woman was running the household on her meager income. One woman at Mogra Haat in this situation said: “How can I even think of having more children? I can barely feed my family.” Another at Diamond Harbor said: “I tell my mother in law that when her son stops drinking and gets a job I will have a son.” If the husband is un or under-employed, this means that the woman and her family have to stay with relatives, usually in very cramped quarters. In such cases, women get full support from husbands and marital families in their desire to use birth control. However, even as women take the decision to use birth control, with family support or without, many of them face deep uncertainty about how this decision is going to affect

Authors: Mookerjee, Devalina.
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15
The nation’s and the women’s own interests, therefore are seen as inextricably
intertwined, and there are women who point to the good of the nation as a reason for
limiting or spacing births.
However women do not necessarily wait for clinic staff to convince them to start
using birth control. Things really are different today, a sentiment also echoed by older
and younger women. Unlike even ten years ago, there are very many more women using
birth control with their family’s permission and support (N. Das, personal interview, 20
January 2002 ). The reasons they give for this are economic relating to the husband’s
position and a better life for their children. Several women I talked with had husbands
who had non-regular or non-existing sources of income. In many of these cases, the
woman was running the household on her meager income. One woman at Mogra Haat in
this situation said:
“How can I even think of having more children? I can barely feed my
family.”
Another at Diamond Harbor said:
“I tell my mother in law that when her son stops drinking and gets a job
I will have a son.”
If the husband is un or under-employed, this means that the woman and her family
have to stay with relatives, usually in very cramped quarters. In such cases, women get
full support from husbands and marital families in their desire to use birth control.
However, even as women take the decision to use birth control, with family support
or without, many of them face deep uncertainty about how this decision is going to affect


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