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Balancing tradition and modernity in narratives surrounding contraception use among poorer women in West Bengal, India.
Unformatted Document Text:  18 parent’s home, and then have a ligation. Being a relatively simple procedure, it leaves practically no scars, and the woman goes back to her marital family secure in the knowledge that she will not get pregnant again. This is not as infrequent as it may seem. During the course of this research, the clinic at Diamond Harbor held two ligation ‘camps’ as they are called, and four women on the first day and five on the second said that they were currently visiting their parents homes as their marital families would not allow them to terminate their fertility. One of the women interviewed on the first day said: “I did not want to do this, because I have only two children, and one of them is sickly. But I tried the pill, and my husband found out and threw them away. I thought of the copper T (an IUD) but I know there is a string that my husband may see, so I have to do this.” She went on to say that she would not be telling her husband that she had been to the ‘camp’ because there was the very real possibility that he would throw her out of the house if he knew that she was no longer fertile. A second range of worries women experience with regard to not having children is a direct result of value shifts in a changing world. As already discussed, most of these women grew up with the idea that being a wife and mother was going to be the most important role in their lives. In a culture where a greater number of children were traditionally better, how does a woman now adjust to the idea of voluntarily limiting her own fertility? Culturally, a woman is not supposed to call or refer to her husband by his name as a mark of respect. How does she tell him that she no longer wants to bear his children? This is an issue that causes anxiety for women, even while they are aware that

Authors: Mookerjee, Devalina.
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parent’s home, and then have a ligation. Being a relatively simple procedure, it leaves
practically no scars, and the woman goes back to her marital family secure in the
knowledge that she will not get pregnant again. This is not as infrequent as it may seem.
During the course of this research, the clinic at Diamond Harbor held two ligation
‘camps’ as they are called, and four women on the first day and five on the second said
that they were currently visiting their parents homes as their marital families would not
allow them to terminate their fertility. One of the women interviewed on the first day
said:
“I did not want to do this, because I have only two children, and one of
them is sickly. But I tried the pill, and my husband found out and threw
them away. I thought of the copper T (an IUD) but I know there is a string
that my husband may see, so I have to do this.”
She went on to say that she would not be telling her husband that she had been to
the ‘camp’ because there was the very real possibility that he would throw her out of the
house if he knew that she was no longer fertile.
A second range of worries women experience with regard to not having children is
a direct result of value shifts in a changing world. As already discussed, most of these
women grew up with the idea that being a wife and mother was going to be the most
important role in their lives. In a culture where a greater number of children were
traditionally better, how does a woman now adjust to the idea of voluntarily limiting her
own fertility? Culturally, a woman is not supposed to call or refer to her husband by his
name as a mark of respect. How does she tell him that she no longer wants to bear his
children? This is an issue that causes anxiety for women, even while they are aware that


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